CO2 Levels Higher Than Ever in 2011

record CO2 levels

According to the World Meteorological Organization, levels of CO2 in the atmosphere rose to record levels in 2011. The greenhouse gas is now 40% more abundant than in 1750, making up 390.9 parts per million of our air.

Levels of other heat-trapping gases, including nitrous oxide and methane, also rose significantly. As a result, the amount of heat prevented from reaching outer space is now some 30% higher than it was in 1990.

Since the human race started burning fossil fuels on a large scale in the middle of the eighteenth century it’s estimated that about 413 billion tons (375 billion metric tons) of carbon have been released into the atmosphere.

Worryingly, there are fears that the earth’s natural ‘sinks’ such as tress and oceans which sequester this excess carbon, may be reaching capacity. Though they currently retain half of the carbon released into the atmosphere, Michael Jarraud, the secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization, has warned“this will not necessarily continue in future.” In addition, once in the atmosphere, CO2 takes hundreds of years to break down, meaning there is a potential for exponential rise should emissions continue to increase.

He went on to add:

We have already seen that the oceans are becoming more acidic as a result of the carbon dioxide uptake, with potential repercussions for the underwater food chain and coral reefs. There are many additional interactions between greenhouse gases, Earth’s biosphere and oceans, and we need to boost our monitoring capability and scientific knowledge in order to better understand these.

These findings come after a report issued on by the World Bank last Sunday suggested that without major action global action to tackle global warming, the earth’s temperature could rise by 4°C by 2060, an event which would almost certainly be a catastrophe for human life, which potential consequences including heat waves, rising sea levels and other extreme weather events.

Green Steve’s Reaction

As stated in the article, CO2 stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years so while global greenhouse gas emissions may fall, total atmospheric concentrations of these gases will still increase for a long time to come.

This is the whole reason that drastic cuts in emissions must be achieved if the 4 degrees of warming is to be avoided.

Steve (156 Posts)

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