Earth’s climate has been consistently degrading since the past few decades. According to Mauna Loa Observatory, based in Hawaii, Earth has recorded a new dangerous climate milestone on April 18 as the carbon dioxide (CO2) levels have reached 410 parts per million (ppm). CO2 levels have never reached such a level in human history.
Mauna Loa Observatory has been recording atmospheric CO2 levels since its establishment in 1956. In 1958, CO2 levels were at 280 ppm. In 2013, it crossed two-fold mark by surpassing 400 ppm. Since 2013, CO2 levels have been revolving around 400 ppm mark. However, scientists have been warning people that the CO2 levels could soon hit a new milestone.
If the current trend in the atmospheric CO2 levels continues, mankind could end up witnessing a climatic change that has never happened in the past 50 million years. Gavin Foster, paleoclimate researcher, said it is depressing to see CO2 levels surpassing 400 ppm mark within few years. He adds – “These milestones are just numbers, but they give us an opportunity to pause and take stock and act as useful yard sticks for comparisons to the geological record.”
How does the increase in atmospheric CO2 levels affect our planet? Carbon dioxide is one of the major contributors that cause a change in Earth’s climatic conditions. The only thing that can be done to prevent climate from degrading further is to reduce the amount of CO2 released into the air by human activities.
Climatic conditions such as El Nino have been known for generating considerable amount of CO2 in the last few years. However, it has been found that it is mainly because of the large amounts of fossil fuels burnt by humans that CO2 is reaching such high levels. “It’s only when the emissions are reduced in half, the CO2 levels in the atmosphere can go down” says Pieter Tans, an atmospheric scientist with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.