A new high for heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was recorded despite decreased emissions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists announced on June 4.
Measurements of carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas produced from human activities, averaged 417.1 parts per million at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, in May, when carbon levels in the air peak, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stated. Reportedly, that amounts to 2.4 parts per million higher than last year.
A premier atmospheric research facility, Mauna Loa Observatory has been monitoring data related to atmospheric change since 1958.
According to an India Today report, the 17% decrease in carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, in April, was a brief decline.
Carbon dioxide can stay in the air for centuries, therefore the short term reductions of new carbon pollution for a few months didn't have much of a big picture effect, said NOAA senior scientist Pieter Tans.
"It illustrates how difficult it is - what a huge job it is - to bring emissions down," Tans said.
"We are really committing the Earth to an enormous amount of warming for a very large time," Tans added.
Records with direct measurements date back to 1958. Carbon dioxide levels are now nearly 100 parts per million higher since then which amounts to a 31% increase in 62 years.
"The rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels is relentless, and this means the costs of climate change to humans and the planet continue to rise relentlessly as well," University of Michigan environment dean Jonathan Overpeck was quoted as saying.
According to Tans, the carbon levels in the air were higher in the distant past before humans. The carbon dioxide levels usually peak around May because towards the end of that month growing plants suck up more heat-trapping gas, causing carbon amounts in the air to drop, Tans added.