"Carbon Dioxide Levels Reach Highest Recorded Levels in Human History"
Greenhouse gas concentrations continued to rise in 2018, with carbon dioxide levels hitting an all-time high of 407.8 parts per million, according to a report released by the World Meteorological Organization on Monday.
The grim assessment comes just days before the UN Climate Change conference begins on Dec. 2, highlighting the increasing levels of three greenhouse gases contributing to global heating as a result of human activities. The last time the Earth had comparable concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was approximately 3 million years ago, when the temperature was approximately 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer and sea levels were up to 20 meters (65 feet) higher.
"There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, in greenhouse gases concentration in the atmosphere despite all the commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change," said Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the WMO, in a press release. The report details concentrations of three greenhouse gases known to greatly contribute to global heating: carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. These gases can remain in the atmosphere for long periods of time, trapping heat. The higher the concentration, the more heat they can trap. Of the measured gases, CO2 contributes the most to heating and is also absorbed by the oceans, lowering their pH and wreaking havoc on marine life.
There are several key 3's here: three greenhouse gases, 3 million years, 3 degrees.
So a subtle 33 imprint but more importantly, these numbers highlight the dramatic need for a massive effort to reign in carbon emissions if we are to avoid truly catastrophic global warming and ecocide.