The amount of damaging carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has reached a worrying new milestone at the world’s oldest measuring station in Hawaii.
The Mauna Loa observatory, which has measured the parts per million (PPM) of CO2 in the atmosphere since 1958, took a reading of 415.26PPM in the air on May 11 – a figure thought to be the highest concentration since humans evolved.
The Scripps Institution of Oceanography measures CO2 levels at Mauna Loa daily. The observatory is located on Hawaii’s largest volcano and was built to test air quality on the remote Pacific islands because it is far from continents and pollution.
However, the area lacks vegetation which can interfere with results.
The readings form the Keeling Curve – which shows increase in CO2 in the atmosphere due to human activity.
The 1958 readings showed the concentration of CO2 was 313 ppm in March 1958, and that had risen to 400 ppm by May 2013.
Meteorologist Eric Holthouse retweeted the Mauna Loa readings and said: “This is the first time in human history our planet’s atmosphere has had more than 415ppm CO2.
“Not just in recorded history, not just since the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago. Since before modern humans existed millions of years ago.
“We don’t know a planet like this.”
This is the first time in human history our planet's atmosphere has had more than 415ppm CO2.— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) May 12, 2019
Not just in recorded history, not just since the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago. Since before modern humans existed millions of years ago.
We don't know a planet like this. https://t.co/azVukskDWr
Ralph Keeling, the director of Scripps CO2 programme said: “The average growth rate is remaining on the high end.
“The increase from last year will probably be around three parts per million whereas the recent average has been 2.5 ppm.”
He added: “[It’s] likely we’re seeing the effect of mild El Niño conditions on top of ongoing fossil fuel use.”
The worrying revelation comes not long after the claim that simply planting more trees could no longer repair the damage caused by climate change.
We would have to cover the entire contiguous US with trees just to capture 10% of the carbon dioxide we emit each year. This essentially means there simply isn’t enough room on the planet to house the farmland required to feed the world along with the necessary number of trees.
“The area required is close to half of current global arable land plus permanent crop area. If bioenergy with carbon capture and storage were deployed at this scale there would be intense competition with food, water and conservation needs.” (Via The Conversation)
As it stands, we can emit an estimated 865 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide and have a reasonable chance of keeping warming under 2C. However recent analysis shows current commitments are not enough to do so.