In May this year the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 400 ppm (parts per million) for the first time since the Pliocene era, over 2 million years ago.
In the Pliocene era the global average temperature was 2–3°C higher than today, the global sea level was 25 m higher and the Arctic ice sheet appeared only briefly in mid-winter each year.
Here is how some NASA scientists have reacted to us reaching 400 ppm (source: http://climate.nasa.gov/400ppmquotes
- “CO2 concentrations haven’t been this high in millions of years. Even more alarming is the rate of increase in the last five decades and the fact that CO2 stays in the atmosphere for hundreds or thousands of years… Climate change is a threat to life on Earth and we can no longer afford to be spectators.” – Dr. Erika Podest, Carbon and water cycle research scientist
- “We’re still on the ‘business-as-usual’ path, and adding more and more CO2, which will impact the generations ahead of us. Passing this mark should motivate us to advocate for focused efforts to reduce emissions across the globe.” – Dr. Annmarie Eldering, Deputy Project Scientist, Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 satellite mission – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
- “These increases in atmospheric CO2 are causing real, significant changes in the Earth system now, not in some distant future climate, and will continue to be felt for centuries to come.” – Dr. Charles Miller, Researcher specializing in the remote sensing of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases; Principal investigator, Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment (CARVE) mission
- “Earth’s climate has never had to deal with such a drastic change as the current increase, which is, therefore, likely to have unexpected implications for our environment.” – Dr. Carmen Boening, Scientist, Climate Physics Group – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Carbon dioxide levels are currently rising at a rate of 2 ppm per year. Oh well, as long as we have X Factor and Instagram life is good … isn’t it?