Politics Magazine

Atmospheric CO2 Still Growing Rapidly

Posted on the 02 May 2013 by Jobsanger
Atmospheric CO2 Still Growing Rapidly Perhaps the most problematic of the greenhouse gases is carbon dioxide (CO2), because it is almost completely due to humans burning carbon based fuels. For the last 800,000 years, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere remained constant at about 280 parts per million. But after the start of the Industrial Revolution, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere began to rise -- and about mid-20th century, it began to rise rapidly (as more and more burning of carbon-based fuels occurred).
But we are now poised to set a milestone record in atmospheric CO2. This year will mark the first time in human history that the average CO2 in the atmosphere will top 400 parts per million for sustained periods. Scripps Institution geochemist Ralph Keeling said, "I wish it weren't true, but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400-ppm level without missing a beat. At this pace we'll hit 450-ppm within a few decades."
Why is this important? Because the higher the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, the more damage is caused to the global climate. Climate scientists have generally agreed that to prevent any global climate change, the CO2 concentration should remain no larger than 350-ppm. We have already topped that, and are reaping the consequences now with severe weather changes.
We are already at the point where it could take many decades to get the CO2 concentration back down to 350-ppm (if immediate action was taken). If we continue to do nothing and let the concentrations of CO2 grow, we could soon reach the point where it would take hundreds of years to get the concentration back down to a manageable level -- meaning we are probably sentencing our children, grand-children, and great-grand-children to an ever-worsening climate disaster.
The nations of the world should be getting together to take significant action to correct this problem (or at least stop the increase in CO2 concentration -- so the Earth can begin to heal). But all they are doing is meeting every now and then to argue about the situation -- and nothing is being accomplished.
The two biggest offenders in increasing the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere are the United States and China. Neither of these nations should be waiting for world agreement on the problem. The U.S. could take unilateral action to drastically cut the CO2 it adds to the atmosphere, and most of the nations of the world would follow our lead -- and put enormous pressure on China to do the same.
Unfortunately, nothing will be done in this country as long as the Republicans retain control of either branch of Congress -- because they simply don't accept the reality of science (believing it is trumped by their 2000 year old religion). The choice we have is clear -- either vote the GOP out of power, or wait until it is too late to take effective action.
(NOTE -- I made the above chart with information from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.)

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