When it comes to climate change, it seems that with every passing day, there are new records being broken. A new record was set last month. The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) piling up in the Earth's atmosphere hit a record high at 419 parts per million (ppm) in May. This is despite the fact that there was a temporary dip in the burning of fossil fuels due to the coronavirus-induced lockdowns worldwide.
This year's peak is the highest since measurements began 63 years ago. The data itself is an indicator of how things are going downhill over the years. In 1958, when measurements began atmospheric CO2 was at 316 ppm. Before the dawn of the industrial era, this number was at 280 ppm. The levels have now reached the dangerous milestone of being 50 per cent higher than when the industrial age began.
This year's readings are about half a percent higher than the previous record of 417 ppm in May 2020. The data also points that countries are not doing enough to rein in their greenhouse gas emissions. Essentially, it also means the countries are not doing enough to meet the goals of the Paris climate accords – to keep temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
No Effect Of Lockdown
Global emissions dipped by almost 6.4 per cent in 2020. According to International Energy Agency (IEA), it was the largest ever decline and almost five times greater than the 2009 decline that followed the global financial crisis. However, it hardly made any difference to the total CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
On the whole, humanity still emitted more than 31 billion tons of carbon dioxide last year, from sources such as cars that burn gasoline or power plants that burn coal, reported The New York Times.
"As long as we keep emitting carbon dioxide, it's going to continue to pile up in the atmosphere," said Ralph Keeling, a geochemist who runs the Scripps Oceanography CO2 program. The current levels of CO2 are comparable to those seen during the Pliocene era 4.1 million to 4.5 million years ago, the Scripps scientists said.