WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Data reported from Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory, scientists revealed that the carbon dioxide concentration in the earth’s atmosphere has topped alarming levels not seen since the Pliociene period, about 3 and 2.6 million years ago.
- According to the report, levels of the greenhouse gas were recorded at 415 ppm in every million molecules of gas in the atmosphere.
- The data which serves as an alert on how the planet has been heavily impacted by human activity is also deemed unsustainable for energy use.
On Monday, scientists at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii reported that carbon dioxide concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere has registered levels not observed for 3 million years. Such data offer a desperate warning on how human activity impacts the planet.
Based on the observatory’s sensors, carbon dioxide levels have reached 415 parts per million (ppm) on Saturday which means 415 ppm of CO2 is present in every 1 million molecules of gas in the atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas which is discharged when fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas is burned. Because it confines heat in the earth’s atmosphere, it contributes to the increase of global temperatures which pushes climate change.
Over the last decade, CO2 concentration has been steadily increasing by an average of 2.5 ppm. But the director of the Scripps C02 program which runs the Manua Loa Observatory, Ralph Keeling, said the increase between 2018 and 2019 will possibly be around 3 ppm.
“It’s not normal,” Keeling said in a statement. “This increase is just not sustainable in terms of energy use and in terms of what we are doing to the planet.”
Meteorologist Eric Holthaus has warned on Twitter that this is the first time in history that concentration of the gas had exceeded 415 ppm.
The Pliociene period which was between 5.3 and 2.6 million years ago was the last time the quantity of CO2 was this high. The Earth was then very different with a much warmer climate.
A Stanford University professor of earth system science told NBC that back then, average sea levels were believed to have been about 50 feet higher than they are today while forests spread as far north as the Arctic.