Crossing Dangerous Thresholds
- CO2 Levels At All Time High As Rate Of Increase Accelerates
- 2020 Tied With 2016 For Hottest Month Globally
- Methane Levels Reach New Highs in 2020
NOAA’s renowned Mauna Loa Laboratory recorded a new record for daily average atmospheric CO2 on April 3, 2021. The 421PPM reading follows news that 2020 has been confirmed as the planet’s warmest year, tying 2016. And as a bonus, atmospheric methane (CH4) levels are blowing through all records in a way that climate scientists are struggling to understand.
The 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 2005. The nine hottest have occurred since 2010. The seven hottest have been the most recent seven.
Long Term Perspective and Context:
The more context you have for this frightening GHG indicator, the scarier it should appear.
In the last million years, CO2 levels have cycled between about 180 and 280 ppm during cycles of about 100,000 years.
When the industrial revolution began to pump carbon into the atmosphere in ever increasing quantities, the cycle was dangerously disrupted, at first gradually and now accelerating rapidly. The pattern doesn’t require deep analysis for the trend to be obvious.
The new blow out number from April 3 confirms that a return of human economic activity is jolting CO2 concentration right back to the pre-Covid threshold and beyond. Levels had been dropping up until September of 2020 due to the pandemic.
In addition to the proven relationship between carbon levels and global heating, there are a number of other effects from the rapid escalation of CO2 increase. Among the most significant is the acidification of the ocean chemistry, which has already begun to compromise the existence of a number of marine species. People will finally “get it” when their favorite oyster bar closes forever.
One of the first lines of pushback from global heating deniers who want to seem objective is “the climate has been changing for millions of years.” Which of course is true. In fact, science has documented these patterns rather predictably, particularly in a group of graphs known as the Milankovitch cycles.
HOWEVER! The current pace of CO2 concentration growth plots far outside of any normal cycle for millions of years. So yes, cyclical but juiced beyond any “natural” model by anthropogenic global heating. The highest levels in 3 million years. Us. Humans.
Methane: CO2s dark, surly shadow companion.
Methane, (a GHG about 20 to 30% more potent than CO2) also continues to increase rapidly in the Earth’s atmosphere. After a pause in the early years of this century, the accelerated growth resumed in 2008. In spite of the pandemic, the year 2020 showed the greatest increase in atmospheric CH4 in history.
The causes – which are likely a combination of natural and human induced – are not fully understood, but it is utterly clear that fossil fuel emissions and ranching are among them. Atmospheric levels of CH4 have essentially doubled over the past two hundred years, the cause behind as much as 25% of global heating.
Nothing good can come of that.