Carbon Dioxide in Earth’s Atmosphere Reaches New Record High

A new report from the World Meteorological Organization has found the concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere reached a record high in 2018, and the problem appearing to be accelerating.

According to the report released on Monday, the global average concentrations of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide reached 407.8 parts per million. That’s an increase from the global average of 405.5 parts per million in 2017, and there’s no sign of the increasing concentrations slowing down.

“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 said.

 “It is worth recalling that the last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3-5 million years ago. Back then, the temperature was 2-3°C warmer, sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now,” Taalas added.

The concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide also surged by higher amounts during the last decade, observations showed. The organization’s report found that the increase over 2017 and 2018 recent years was above the average growth seen over the last decade, which had been just over 2 parts per million, per year. At the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, scientists say the amount of carbon dioxide hit a new single-day high after instruments there showed the greenhouse gas had surpassed 415 parts per million. The report from the WMO is an average of the global concentrations of CO2.

Scientists say greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, can linger in the atmosphere for centuries and trap solar radiation from the sun. Burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas release CO2, Methane and other types of greenhouse gases which are responsible for the planet’s warming. The CO2 emitted today will be trapping heat in the atmosphere thousands of years from now.

“The findings of WMO’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin and UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report point us in a clear direction – in this critical period, the world must deliver concrete, stepped-up action on emissions,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme. “We face a stark choice: set in motion the radical transformations we need now, or face the consequences of a planet radically altered by climate change.”