CC: Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations Surpass 400 PPM Milestone
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ATMOSPHERIC CO2 CONCENTRATIONS SURPASS 400 PPM MILESTONE
By James Gerken
The Huffington Post
May 10, 2013
Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide surpassed a notable
milestone this week.
They reached a daily average above 400 parts per million, reported NOAA,
for the first time in human history.
The milestone, hit on May 9, may be symbolic, notes Climate Central, but
manmade CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels continue to rise,
bringing greater atmospheric warming and exacerbating the effects of
Scientists argue we've loaded the "climate dice" in favor of more
weather anomalies and extreme heat waves.
Research also shows that continued emissions of long-lived greenhouse
gases like carbon dioxide will mean "largely irreversible" climate
change for 1,000 years even after we curtail emissions.
"The last time we're confident that CO2 was sustained at these levels is
more than 10 million years ago, during the middle of the Miocene
period," climate scientist Michael Mann told The Huffington Post in an
email. "This was a time when global temperatures were substantially
warmer than today, and there was very little ice around anywhere on the
Readings are taken at the NOAA-operated Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii
and form part of the Keeling Curve -- a continuous record of CO2
measurements dating back to 1958. Bubbles found inside Antarctic ice
core samples provide a longer record of CO2 in the air for the past
CO2 measurements surpassed 400 ppm in the Arctic last summer, but the
readings from Hawaii mark the first time prolonged levels above 400 ppm
have been observed at more moderate latitudes.
Global carbon dioxide levels fluctuate over the course of the year,
reaching an annual peak in May. LiveScience explains that the cycle
reveals how trees and vegetation remove more CO2 from the air during the
summer, until the annual minimum is reached in October.
"Take this day and the milestone it represents to reflect on the
fragility of our civilization and and the planetary ecosystem on which
it depends," Al Gore urged on Friday. "We must take immediate action to
solve this crisis. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next year. Now."
350.org founder Bill McKibben said in a statement emailed to HuffPost,
"The only question now is whether the relentless rise in carbon can be
matched by a relentless rise in the activism necessary to stop it."
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