Science and Tech


CO2 Levels In Atmosphere Reach Record-Breaking Level

An alarming new report from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography shows carbon dioxide levels set a new record, surpassing 400 ppm this year.
Posted at 2:33 PM, May 02, 2014

An alarming new report from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography shows a record-breaking amount of CO2 in our atmosphere. 

"New tests show the level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is now at its highest in human history." (Via NBC)

"Carbon dioxide is the greenhouse gas considered most responsible for global warming." (Via ABC)

That gas measured in at more than 400 parts per million each day in April, according to USA Today. A little more than six decades ago, it was measured at about 300 parts per million. The outlet says scientists have been recording CO2 levels since the late 1950s along a graph called the Keeling Curve.

Scientists tweeted out the news via the Keeling Curve's account, noting the average CO2 level measured in at 401.33 parts per million. (Via Twitter / @Keeling_curve)

More troubling — researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, say much of the rise in carbon dioxide has come about in the past 100 years. "Humans have caused carbon dioxide concentrations to rise 120 ppm since pre-industrial times, with over 90 percent of that in the past century alone." (Via Flickr / spencerthomas, abmatic)

But it doesn't stop there. James Butler, director of NOAA's Global Monitoring Division, says not only has the concentration itself increased, but the rate of increase has, too. "The rate of increase has accelerated from about 0.7 ppm per year in the late 1950s to 2.1 ppm per year during the last decade."

So not only are we reaching higher concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, but the process is also getting faster each year. (Via NASA

A writer for Slate spoke with Ralph Keeling, keeper of the Keeling Curve. Keeling says this new milestone is troubling and we must reduce fossil fuel burning. "It's clear if we keep on the same course we're heading for a very different world. That carries with it lots of risks. If the climate changes fast enough, those risks are compounded."