The levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the earth’s atmosphere are constantly increasing, a worrying trend for environmentalists and the planet as a whole.
In May, levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeded 411 parts per million, which was the largest single monthly average ever to be recorded at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa observatory.
Scientists also discovered that the rate at which CO2 levels are increasing in the atmosphere is only getting faster, from an average of 1.6 ppm in the 1980s and 1.5 ppm per year in the 1990s to 2.2 ppm per year over the course of the last decade. From 2016 to 2017, the global average increased by 2.3 ppm. The sixth straight year-over-year increase measuring more than 2 ppm. Before 2012, back-to-back increases of more than 2 ppm had only ever happened twice.
This is devastating news to environmental sciences who have been hoping to curb the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere. The fact that CO2 levels only continue to increase is disheartening to the hopes of people hoping to slow down or reverse some of the effects of manmade climate change. There is still hope for these effects to be slowed in the next decade if renewable energy sees enough growth and replaces enough fossil fuels in the global market, but that will depend on the legislative steps many of the world’s largest nations and consumers of energy are willing to take to shift toward more sustainable energy usage.
What effects does carbon dioxide have on the planet?
While it’s important to understand that rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are dangerous for the planet, it’s even more important to understand why this is the case.
For millions of years, greenhouse gases (of which carbon dioxide is one example) were produced and regulated naturally on the planet at a rather steady rate. However, during the latter 1700s at the start of the Industrial Revolution, humans began tipping the scales in a way that created an imbalance in the amount of greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, in particular, has seen massive emission growths, to the point where it currently represents about 84 percent of all greenhouse gases emitted through human activity, a total of about 30 billion tons per year.
Most of these gases come from burning fossil fuels for transportation and electricity. They also come from various industrial processes and forestry. Before the Industrial Revolution, CO2 levels were measured at about 270 ppm. They were 313 ppm in 1960, and reached 400 ppm in 2013. These levels must be reduced to 350 ppm to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
Rising levels of carbon dioxide made the oceans 30 percent more acidic, which affects the ability of many types of organisms to live. It has also warmed the earth, causing the polar ice caps to shrink and leading to a higher incidence of more powerful storm patterns, among other effects.
It is our responsibility as humans and stewards of the planet to reduce our emissions and create a more sustainable future. Contact one of the Soil Advocates specialists. We would be happy to discuss about how we can live “green” and reduce your carbon footprint.