Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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.

This fall brings three new environmental movies. David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet | Official Trailer

This week marks the official start of fall, but longer nights and colder days can make it harder to spend time outdoors. Luckily, there are several inspiring environmental films that can be streamed at home.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Amazon Employees for Climate Justice walk out and rally at the company's headquarters to demand that leaders take action on climate change in Seattle, Washington on Sept. 20, 2019. JASON REDMOND / AFP via Getty Images

The world's largest online retailer is making it slightly easier for customer to make eco-conscious choices.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Moms Clean Air Force members attend a press conference hosted by Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) announcing legislation to ban chlorpyrifos on July 25, 2017. Moms Clean Air Force

The Trump administration's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a risk assessment for toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos Tuesday that downplayed its effects on children's brains and may be the first indication of how the administration's "secret science" policy could impact public health.

Read More Show Less
Evacuees wait to board a bus as they are evacuated by local and state government officials before the arrival of Hurricane Laura on August 26, 2020 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Maria Trimarchi and Sarah Gleim

If all the glaciers and ice caps on the planet melted, global sea level would rise by about 230 feet. That amount of water would flood nearly every coastal city around the world [source: U.S. Geological Survey]. Rising temperatures, melting arctic ice, drought, desertification and other catastrophic effects of climate change are not examples of future troubles — they are reality today. Climate change isn't just about the environment; its effects touch every part of our lives, from the stability of our governments and economies to our health and where we live.

Read More Show Less
In 'My Octopus Teacher,' Craig Foster becomes fascinated with an octopus and visits her for hundreds of days in a row. Netflix

In his latest documentary, My Octopus Teacher, free diver and filmmaker Craig Foster tells a unique story about his friendship and bond with an octopus in a kelp forest in Cape Town, South Africa. It's been labeled "the love story that we need right now" by The Cut.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch