Carbon dioxide levels could have devastating consequences for civilization
Global emissions continued to soar unchecked, in spite of scientist's warnings
The concentration of climate-warming carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has passed the milestone level of 400 parts per million. This milestone has ominous implications for humanity and civilization, as the last time this was true, the Arctic was ice-free, savannah spread across the Sahara desert and sea level was up to 40 meters higher than today.
This level of carbon dioxide has not been seen on Earth for three to five million years, a period called the Pliocene. At that time, global average temperatures were 3 or 4C higher than today's and 8C warmer at the poles.
"The passing of this milestone is a significant reminder of the rapid rate at which - and the extent to which - we have increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere," Professor Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says. "At the beginning of industrialization the concentration of CO2 was just 280 ppm. We must hope that the world crossing this milestone will bring about awareness of the scientific reality of climate change and how human society should deal with the challenge."
Many believe that the level beyond which catastrophic warming is thought to become unstoppable has already been reached. The International Energy Agency warned in 2012 that on current emissions trends the world will see 6C of warming, a level scientists warn would lead to chaos. "This isn't just a symbolic milestone; it's yet another piece of clear scientific evidence of the effect human activity is having on our planet," Edward Davey, the U.K.'s energy and climate change secretary says. "I've made clear I will not let up on efforts to secure the legally binding deal the world needs by 2015 to avoid the worst effects of climate change."
Data released last week proved the daily average has passed 400 ppm for the first time in its half century of recording. The level peaks in May each year as the CO2 released by decaying vegetation is taken up by renewed plant growth in the northern hemisphere, where the bulk of plants grow.
This level has not been seen on Earth for three to five million years, a period called the Pliocene. At that time, global average temperatures were 3 or 4C higher than today's and 8C warmer at the poles. Reef corals suffered a major extinction while forests grew up to the northern edge of the Arctic Ocean, a region which is today bare tundra.
With the rapid acceleration of CO2, perhaps 75 times faster than in pre-industrial time has never been seen in geological records and some effects of climate change are already being seen. Recent wet and cold summer weather in Europe has been linked to changes in the high level jet stream winds.
"We are creating a prehistoric climate in which human societies will face huge and potentially catastrophic risks," Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics says. "Only by urgently reducing global emissions will we be able to avoid the full consequences of turning back the climate clock by 3 million years."
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Technology News
- Debate between scientists over details of evolution becomes heated
- DRAMATIC DEATH IN SPACE - Astronomers watch as an entire galaxy bleeds to death before their eyes
- Duck and Cover! Asteroid 2014 DX110 will buzz Earth today and you can watch it happen!
- 330-foot long aircraft hailed the largest in the world
- GIBBERISH! More than 100 articles in scientific journals found to balderdash
- New super pill could prolong human longevity
- Vintage cheese - found on the chests of 3,500-year-old mummies!
- Boeing producing 'BLACK' a super-spy phone worthy of James Bond
- Why the Kepler planet discovery changes ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING!
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?