400 PPM — RIP

June 1, 2012

Celestial crazy continued yesterday in New York City with “Manhattanhenge” — the rare, though not unheard of phenomenon when a setting sun perfectly aligns itself with the Manhattan street grid and invoked native daftness: “Taxi cabs and cars were all slowing down trying to figure out what these crazy New Yorkers were doing looking West on 42nd St towards New Jersey,” she said.
Clouds over fabled New Jersey, however, chilled the overall effect.

Although a second ‘Manhattanhenge‘ is reportedly on again for next month, one announcement this week that went nearly unannounced is another milestone the earth hasn’t experienced for 8,000 years — and it ain’t sunset pretty.

(Illustration found here).

The seemingly roof of the world is warming way fast with the most-dreaded carbon dioxide (CO2) — the chief greenhouse gas that results from human activities and causes global warming and climate change, which scientists measure in parts per million, a way of expressing very dilute concentrations of substances.
Via Wikipedia:

CO2 is an asphyxiant gas and not classified as toxic or harmful in accordance with Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals standards of United Nations Economic Commission for Europe by using the OECD Guidelines for the Testing of Chemicals.
In higher concentrations 1 percent (10,000 ppm) will make some people feel drowsy.
Concentrations of 7 percent to 10 percent may cause suffocation, manifesting as dizziness, headache, visual and hearing dysfunction, and unconsciousness within a few minutes to an hour.

Alone CO2 ain’t bad, but get it concentrated — shit-storm.

In those by-gone pre-industrial days (1750), reportedly the CO2 ppm was about 275 or so, and for many, many years, most experts in the field estimated 550 ppm was okay to keep life normal, then more research indicated 450 ppm, and now it’s widely considered that 350 ppm is the red-line, stop-point.
In 2007, the level was at 383 ppm.
The current CO2 ppm level worldwide is 396.30 — getting there.
This week, an ominous report on these ppm levels.
Via the Washington Post on Wednesday:

Monitoring stations across the Arctic this spring are measuring more than 400 parts per million of the heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere.
The number isn’t quite a surprise, because it’s been rising at an accelerating pace.

“The fact that it’s 400 is significant,” said Jim Butler, global monitoring director at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Lab in Boulder, Colo. “It’s just a reminder to everybody that we haven’t fixed this and we’re still in trouble.”

Readings are coming in at 400 and higher all over the Arctic.
They’ve been recorded in Alaska, Greenland, Norway, Iceland and even Mongolia.
But levels change with the seasons and will drop a bit in the summer, when plants suck up carbon dioxide, NOAA scientists said.
So the yearly average for those northern stations likely will be lower and so will the global number.
Globally, the average carbon dioxide level is about 395 parts per million but will pass the 400 mark within a few years, scientists said.
The Arctic is the leading indicator in global warming, both in carbon dioxide in the air and effects, said Pieter Tans, a senior NOAA scientist.
“This is the first time the entire Arctic is that high,” he said.

And a couple of experts on this situation:

Jim Butler, global monitoring director at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Lab in Colorado, called the new high a “troubling milestone.”
Carnegie Institution ecologist Chris Field, a leader of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said, “It is an indication that we’re in a different world.”

Maybe not a brave, new world, though, huh?

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