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Carbon dioxide in the air at highest levels in 4 million years

Despite an all-time low in traffic levels and commercial activities all around the globe, even during the early months of the pandemic, the amount of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere reached its highest levels in May in modern history for the first time in 4 million years.

According to the scientists at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, the carbon dioxide level in the air was the highest since measurements started being taken 63 years back atop Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano.

Keeling Curve, the measurement named after Charles David Keeling, the scientist to marked the tracking of carbon dioxide in 1958 in San Diego has become a global benchmark of carbon levels in the atmosphere in May, 2021.

Measurement instruments at NOOA’s observatory recorded around 419 parts per million of carbon dioxide in May 2021, more than 417 parts per million in May, 2020.

Carbon dioxide levels, after plummeting last ear due to the coronavirus pandemic, have started to increase again as economies have started to open up and people have resumed work and travel. Emissions of greenhouse gases have also risen due to the very same reason.

Recent data on carbon dioxide levels in May, 2021 state that the global community has so far failed to slow the concentration of heat trapping gases in the atmosphere. The addition of roughly 40 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution to the atmosphere on a yearly basis has been happening and is an alarming number. In order to avoid any atmospheric calamity, the highest priority needs to be the reduction of carbon dioxide levels at the earliest.

Being a greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide resides in the atmosphere for hundreds of years and causes harm to all living beings on the Earth. In the last century, the steep rise of increase of this gas in the atmosphere is because of human activity, majorly burning fossil fuels. The erratic climate changes are already being seen as an adverse cause of this with extreme weather across the globe, floods, melting glaciers and intense hurricanes.

To avoid more damage in the future, these changes must be taken as a wake up call and countries across the world must take steps to cut their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

After the United States formally re-joining the Paris agreement on climate change earlier this year in February, it warned that the measures taken by the 196 member countries to curb greenhouse gas emissions are highly insufficient to meet the agreement’s target that states limiting the global temperatures are preventing them from rising more than two degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

A great alternative to this is solar energy and wind that are cheaper than fossil fuels and work at the required scales. A switch to these resources will still help avoid catastrophic climate change.


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