Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Carbon Emissions Rise to Highest Level in at Least Three Million Years

Climate
Carbon Emissions Rise to Highest Level in at Least Three Million Years

By Andy Rowell

The press release from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says it all: "Another year, another record."

It is a record we do not want. It is a record of political failure. It is a record based on the politics of climate denial. We have crossed another climate threshold that, yet again, signals we are in deep trouble.



We are now experiencing levels of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas, that the earth has not experienced for three to five million years. We are walking – more like stumbling with stupidity – into the unknown. But we know there will be consequences. If we do not change our current trajectory quickly, we risk leaving a very different and dangerous world to our children and grandchildren.

According to the WMO's annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, which collects data from fifty four countries, the average concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 407.8 parts per million in 2018, up from 405.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2017.

Carbon dioxide is not the only gas on the rise. Methane is the second most important long-lived greenhouse gas. According to the WMO, atmospheric methane reached a new high of about 1869 parts per billion (ppb) in 2018 and is now 259% of the pre-industrial level. Levels of nitrous oxide are 123% of pre-industrial levels.

The rise of all three gases shows we are in deep trouble. "This continuing long-term trend means that future generations will be confronted with increasingly severe impacts of climate change, including rising temperatures, more extreme weather, water stress, sea level rise and disruption to marine and land ecosystems," says the WMO.

"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 WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. "We need to translate the commitments into action and increase the level of ambition for the sake of the future welfare of the mankind," he added.

Taalas also points out that the last time that the earth experienced comparable concentration of carbon dioxide was some 3-5 million years ago, when temperatures were 2-3°C warmer and sea levels were 10-20 meters higher than now.

Although we know that we have to reduce emissions now, the WMO predicts that global emissions are not estimated to peak by 2030, let alone by 2020.

Richard Black, the director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit in the UK, told The Guardian: "This record level of greenhouse gases should act as a sobering reminder to governments that so far they are collectively reneging on the pledge they made at the Paris summit, of attempting to keep global warming to 1.5C."

The latest data is released just days before the next UN Climate Change Conference, which is going to be held in Madrid, Spain, from December 2-15.

Reposted with permission from Oil Change International.

Ningaloo Reef near Exmouth on April 2, 2012 in Western Australia. James D. Morgan / Getty Images News

By Dana M Bergstrom, Euan Ritchie, Lesley Hughes and Michael Depledge

In 1992, 1,700 scientists warned that human beings and the natural world were "on a collision course." Seventeen years later, scientists described planetary boundaries within which humans and other life could have a "safe space to operate." These are environmental thresholds, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in land use.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A 3-hour special film by EarthxTV calls for protection of the Amazon and its indigenous populations. EarthxTV.org

To save the planet, we must save the Amazon rainforest. To save the rainforest, we must save its indigenous peoples. And to do that, we must demarcate their land.

Read More Show Less

Trending

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers a video speech at the high-level meeting of the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland on Feb. 22, 2021. Xinhua / Zhang Cheng via Getty Images

By Anke Rasper

"Today's interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet," said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The report, released Friday, looks at the national climate efforts of 75 states that have already submitted their updated "nationally determined contributions," or NDCs. The countries included in the report are responsible for about 30% of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions.

Read More Show Less
New Delhi's smog is particularly thick, increasing the risk of vehicle accidents. SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP via Getty Images

India's New Delhi has been called the "world air pollution capital" for its high concentrations of particulate matter that make it harder for its residents to breathe and see. But one thing has puzzled scientists, according to The Guardian. Why does New Delhi see more blinding smogs than other polluted Asian cities, such as Beijing?

Read More Show Less
A bridge over the Delaware river connects New Hope, Pennsylvania with Lambertville, New Jersey. Richard T. Nowitz / Getty Images

In a historic move, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) voted Thursday to ban hydraulic fracking in the region. The ban was supported by all four basin states — New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York — putting a permanent end to hydraulic fracking for natural gas along the 13,539-square-mile basin, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Read More Show Less