The planet has set a significant – and unwelcome – landmark with the concentration of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere passing 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in more than 3 million years.
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While the 400 level had been reached at some measuring sites last year, Thursday saw the daily average top that rate at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa station for first time.
We have no time to lose
“Humanity has never been here before,” John Connor, chief executive of The Climate Institute, said in a statement. “We are in dangerous and uncharted territory, with little time to ensure a safe and sustainable future.”
A report on the website of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the concentration of carbon dioxide had increased each year since the Mauna Loa site began tracking the greenhouse gas in 1958. In the late 1950s, the annual increase of the gas was 0.7 ppm and it has since tripled to 2.1 ppm a year during the last decade, NOAA said.
“The evidence is conclusive that the strong growth of global CO2 emissions from the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas is driving the acceleration,” said NOAA senior scientist Pieter Tans, according to the website.