The record GHG figures the World Meteorological Organization reveals in its tenth annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin today are not cause for celebration.
Atmospheric greenhouse gases rose even faster last year than in each of the 30 years before, according to the WMO’s Atmospheric Environment Research Division’s Research Department in Geneva. The record GHG results are causing widespread concern that the planet is proving less effective at coping with CO2 than previously thought.
WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud spoke forcefully about these measurements to those who might be unaware of their implications:
Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for many hundreds of years and in the ocean for even longer. Past, present and future CO2 emissions will have a cumulative impact on both global warming and ocean acidification. The laws of physics are non-negotiable.
The international organization has found CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere in 2013 (graph 1 below) at levels 142% higher than measured pre-industrial levels. Methane levels are up 253% (graph 2 below). The bulletin also reveals that radiative forcing, a measure of GHG warming effect, increased by more than a third (34%) between 1990 and 2013.
The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin shows that, far from falling, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere actually increased last year at the fastest rate for nearly 30 years. We must reverse this trend by cutting emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases across the board. We are running out of time.
The WMO also found evidence that the ability of the world’s biosphere to absorb CO2 through the protection given by ocean and forest absorption may be diminishing. Download the WMO report here for more.
Just yesterday, PricewaterhouseCoopers warned that the pace of change in carbon intensity will be at least double the desired two-degree horizon by the end of the century and will not enable Earth to avoid dangerous levels of climate change.
Upcoming international climate meetings in New York, Lima, and Paris are scheduled to take up these alarming issues within the next year. The participants will have to work faster and harder than previous human efforts to hold off the most damaging effects. National “promises” cannot suffice any more.
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