Atmospheric CO2 hits record high in May; is June in danger?

Atmospheric CO2 hits record high in May; is June in danger?

Record High

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit a record high in May, according to new data from NOAA and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The concentration of CO2 reached nearly 427 parts per million, an increase of about 3 parts per million compared to last year’s peak. This marks one of the largest annual jumps on record.

Scientists say the vast majority of this planet-warming pollution comes from humans burning fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal. “Over the past year, we’ve experienced the hottest year on record, the hottest ocean temperatures on record, and a seemingly endless string of heat waves, droughts, floods, wildfires, and storms,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad. “We must recognize that these are clear signals of the damage carbon dioxide pollution is doing to the climate system and take rapid action to reduce fossil fuel use as quickly as we can.”

The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has been steadily increasing since scientists began routine measurements in 1958.

At that time, the concentration was 313 parts per million, already higher than in the 19th century when the Industrial Revolution sparked widespread fossil fuel use.

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Record CO2 levels demand urgent action

In recent years, the growth rate of atmospheric CO2 has accelerated.

In the first four months of this year, the concentration increased more quickly than it has during the same period of any previous year on record. Much of the western U.S. is currently experiencing the first major heat wave of the year, with temperatures soaring above normal for June. In the Southwest, temperatures are lingering well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Scientists state that such extreme, prolonged heat is directly related to human-caused climate change. The record-high levels of carbon dioxide underscore the urgent need for immediate and sustained efforts to combat climate change through significant reductions in fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions. Despite some declines in U.S. emissions, these efforts are not yet sufficient to meet the climate targets set by the Biden administration.

Rising CO2 levels highlight the critical importance of reducing emissions and transitioning to renewable energy sources to address the growing challenges posed by climate change and extreme weather events across the globe.


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