Another Climate Threshold

March 13, 2016

tower_of_babelLast week brought a cluster of environmental news, and this popped yesterday, and doesn’t bode well in the culminating future.
From the UK’s Independent:

Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere “exploded” last year to reach a new record high not seen for thousands of years, scientists have announced.
The last time there was such a sustained increase in carbon dioxide concentrations was at the end of the last Ice Age, between 17,000 and 11,000 years ago. But the current increase is now about 200 times faster than then, they said.

Instruments monitoring CO2 levels at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii recorded a jump of 3.05 parts per million (ppm) during 2015, which is the largest year-on-year increase in 56 years of research at the site, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Couples well with heat…

(Illustration: M.C.Escher’s ‘Tower of Babel,’ found here).

The nut-cruncher: ‘In February 2016, the average global atmospheric CO2 level stood at 402.59 ppm. Prior to 1800, atmospheric CO2 averaged about 280 ppm, showing the influence of man-made emissions since the industrial revolution.’

(h/t War In Context).

Additional details on the report can be found at Discovery News, also with a glimmer of a speck of positivity:

Michael Mann, an atmospheric science professor and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, who is unaffiliated with NOAA, said the carbon dioxide milestone shouldn’t be over-interpreted.
“This spike is almost certainly due in substantial part to the ongoing El Niño event, which is a fleeting effect that increases carbon dioxide concentrations temporarily,” Mann said.
“Carbon dioxide concentrations are a lagging indicator, and they don’t accurately reflect recent trends in the more important variable — our actual carbon emissions.”
Emissions, he said, have stabilized somewhat in recent years and dropped slightly in 2015, reflecting human progress in transitioning away from a fossil fuel economy, he said.
“Those are the numbers to keep a close eye on,” he said.
“If they continue to decline, we will see carbon dioxide concentrations beginning to stabilize.”

If in time…

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