The annual peak of heat retention carbon dioxide in the air has reached another dangerous cornerstone: 50% higher than at the beginning of the industrial era. Scientists said on Monday that the average growth rate is faster than ever.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the average level of carbon dioxide in May was 419.13 parts per million. That’s 1.82 parts per million higher than May 2020 and 50% higher than stable pre-industrial levels of 280 parts per million, said NOAA climate scientist Peter Tans.
Carbon dioxide levels peak every May just before flowering in plant life in the Northern Hemisphere, sucking some of that carbon from the atmosphere into flowers, leaves, seeds and stems. The delay is temporary, as carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal, oil and natural gas for transport and electricity far exceed what plants can absorb, increasing greenhouse gas levels to new highs each year.
“Achieving 50% more carbon dioxide than pre-industrial is really setting a new indicator, not a good way,”
Climate change is not just raising temperatures. This makes– Storms, forest fires, floods and droughts – worse and more frequent and lead to rising oceans and increasing their acidity, studies show. There are also health effects, including deaths and increased pollen. In 2015, the parties signed the Paris Agreement to try to keep climate change below levels that are considered dangerous.
The conclusions of the pandemic slowed down transport, travel and other activities by about 7%, studies show. But that was too little to make a significant difference. Carbon dioxide can stay in the air for 1,000 years or more, so changes in emissions from year to year are not much recorded.
The average 10-year growth rate also set a record, now up to 2.4 parts per million per year.
“Carbon dioxide, which has been rising for decades, is extremely unusual,” Tans said. “For example, when the Earth rose from the last ice age, carbon dioxide increased by about 80 parts per million and took the Earth’s system, the natural system, 6,000 years. We have a much larger increase in the last few decades.”
In comparison, it took only 42 years, from 1979 to 2021, to increase carbon dioxide by the same amount.
“The world is approaching the point where exceeding the Paris targets and entering a climate-hazardous zone is almost inevitable,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a climatologist at Princeton University who was not part of the study.