Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reach Highest Level In 800,000 Years

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New data published this week by the World Meteorological Organization show that concentrations of carbon dioxide, or CO2, in the atmosphere surged to their highest level in 800,000 years.

So that bodes well.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) published its annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin this week which presents data based on observations from the WMO Global Atmosphere Watch Programme — a partnership involving the Members of WMO, contributing networks, and collaborating organizations and bodies, all providing “reliable scientific data and information on the chemical composition of the atmosphere” and “its natural and anthropogenic change.”

The latest edition of the Bulletin, which examines “The State of Greenhouse Gases in the Atmosphere Based on Global Observations through 2016” reveals that concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere reached their highest level in 800,000 years — 403.3 parts per million in 2016, up from 400.00 ppm in 2015, due primarily to a combination of human activities and a strong El Niño event.

This means that concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere are now 145% of pre-industrial levels (pre-1750).

The Bulletin opens by explaining that the “rate of increase of atmospheric [CO2] over the past 70 years is nearly 100 times larger than that at the end of the last ice age” and that “As far as direct proxy observations can tell, such abrupt changes in the atmospheric levels of CO2 have never before been seen.”

So that bodes well.

“Without rapid cuts in COand other greenhouse gas emissions, we will be heading for dangerous temperature increases by the end of this century, well above the target set by the Paris climate change agreement,” explained WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “Future generations will inherit a much more inhospitable planet.”

“COremains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years and in the oceans for even longer. The laws of physics mean that we face a much hotter, more extreme climate in the future. There is currently no magic wand to remove this CO2 from the atmosphere.”

According to the WMO, the last time planet Earth saw comparable levels of atmospheric CO2 was around 3 to 5 million years ago, at which point the temperature was 2-3°C warmer and sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now.

So that bodes well.

“The numbers don’t lie,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment. “We are still emitting far too much and this needs to be reversed. The last few years have seen enormous uptake of renewable energy, but we must now redouble our efforts to ensure these new low-carbon technologies are able to thrive. We have many of the solutions already to address this challenge. What we need now is global political will and a new sense of urgency.”

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Joshua S Hill

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.

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