Carbon dioxide levels hit an all-time high and are growing rapidly

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Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels hit an all-time high last month, after growing at one of the fastest rates on record, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report released Monday, a grim indication as scientists warn that the devastating effects of climate change will spread. they continue to escalate and wreak havoc on the planet.

key facts

Carbon dioxide levels recorded at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Reference Atmospheric Observatory in Hawaii reached nearly 424 parts per million in May, up from 421 parts per million in May 2022: annual CO2 levels at the peak of the Northern Hemisphere in May.

The increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is the fourth-largest annual increase on record, according to scientists from NOAA and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, marking an unwanted increase as scientists aim to stabilize CO2 levels.

Levels up to 420 to 425 parts per million are more than 50% higher than in the pre-industrial era and continue to rise even as countries work to reduce fossil fuel emissions in hopes of meeting the target set out in the Climate Agreement. of Paris in 2015. to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.

crucial appointment

“Each year we see carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere increase as a direct result of human activity,” NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said in a statement, adding: “Each year, we see the impacts of change climate change in the heat waves, droughts, floods, wildfires and storms that occur around us” and “we must do everything we can to reduce carbon pollution and safeguard this planet and the life that calls it home.”

key background

Scientists have warned for decades that fossil fuel emissions must be limited to avoid the deadly impacts of climate change. This is because rising levels of carbon dioxide, which comes from burning fossil fuels primarily for transportation and electricity, trap heat in the atmosphere that would otherwise escape, a global warming effect that it prolongs droughts and heat waves and causes more intense forest fires and storms. United Nations scientists warned in March that the world is “on thin ice” as global temperatures approach the critical 1.5 degrees Celsius estimated to be the maximum temperature rise to avert droughts, heat waves, deadliest and most catastrophic storms and sea level rise. UN scientists also warned in October that greenhouse gas emissions will rise 10% above 2010 levels by 2030, when they desperately need to fall.


State and federal lawmakers have tried to impose stricter limits on emissions and have earmarked billions of dollars for climate change mitigation in recent years, but many companies and Republican lawmakers have criticized such measures, arguing they hurt production. coal, natural gas and oil. Last summer, a group of Republican lawmakers sharply criticized a $370 billion measure in the federal Inflation Reduction Act to address climate change, including Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), who accused Democrats of “sacrificing American families on the altar of climate change.” .”

Other reading

Rich countries owe poorer nations $192 trillion in CO2 emissions, study suggests (Forbes)

‘On thin ice’: World is about to pass critical temperature threshold, UN warns (Forbes)

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