Carbon Dioxide at Record High in Human History

carbon dioxide

Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels hit an all-time record high in human history last month. For an entire month, the Carbon Dioxide levels peaked at 400 parts per million (ppm). Every day in April had a CO2 reading above 400 ppm, reported scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. The greenhouse gas, Carbon Dioxide, is believed to be most responsible for global warming.

Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, emissions of carbon dioxide from humans have risen 40 percent, largely due to the use of fossil fuels. According to the World Meteorological Organization, the average annual global concentration of carbon dioxide is expected to be above 400 ppm within the next two years. With rising concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, there is a risk of more droughts, rising sea levels and heat waves. Secretary General Michael Jarraud of the World Meteorological Organization stated “time is running out. If we want to preserve our planet for the future generations, we need to slow the emissions of greenhouse gases.” As many as 200 governments have agreed to work out a deal by 2015 to help slow down the climate change and lower the earth’s temperature back down to where it was before the Industrial Revolution.

Carbon dioxide is already present in the atmosphere, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As part of Earth’s carbon cycle, it circulates carbon dioxide in not only the atmosphere, but in plants, oceans, animals and soil. The agency stated that humans are actively altering this cycle by adding more carbon dioxide and by the removal of forests which convert the gas into oxygen during photosynthesis. The increase of CO2 caused by burning oil and coal are increasing the greenhouse effect, which cause the planet to become warmer as the gases become trapped in heat on the Earth’s surface.

The accelerated levels of carbon dioxide rose significantly in the last century. By the year 2000, the carbon dioxide levels were reaching between 370 and 380 parts per million. At the end of the 19th century, the levels were around 290 ppm. For its part, the Industrial Revolution, built more factories and burned more and more coal raising those levels. Scientists say that during the past 800,000 years, the carbon dioxide levels were in the range of 180 and 280 parts per million and probably has not been over 400 ppm in millions of years.

There are several factors stated by the EPA for the increase of carbon dioxide, cars and factories and just two of those causes. Electricity is a gigantic source of energy. The combustion of fossil fuels used to generate electricity in homes and businesses is the biggest source of carbon dioxide that is being emitted into the atmosphere in the United States. Throughout human history, humans have pushed harder and harder to make lives better. In those achievements, not only have we risen the carbon dioxide levels, but at a much faster rate. The EPA states that there can be a reduction of carbon dioxide by reducing the amount of fossil fuels that are consumed.

By Melissa Monk

Environmental Protection Agency
USA Today
Huffington Post