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Heat-trapping carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere at highest level in millions of years

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Let’s see what the global-warming deniers can make of THIS:

The level of the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide, has passed a long-feared milestone, scientists reported Friday, reaching a concentration not seen on the earth for millions of years.

Scientific instruments showed that the gas had reached an average daily level above 400 parts per million — just an odometer moment in one sense, but also a sobering reminder that decades of efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control are faltering.

The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years, before humans evolved, and scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea.

“It symbolizes that so far we have failed miserably in tackling this problem,” said Pieter P. Tans, who runs the monitoring program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that reported the new reading.

Ralph Keeling, who runs another monitoring program at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, said a continuing rise could be catastrophic. “It means we are quickly losing the possibility of keeping the climate below what people thought were possibly tolerable thresholds,” he said.

Virtually every automobile ride, every plane trip and, in most places, every flip of a light switch adds carbon dioxide to the air, and relatively little money is being spent to find and deploy alternative technologies.

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4 Comments

  1. Steverino

    The same amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere today traps more heat than the same amount released 50 years ago but this will not stop the fossil fuel industry from telling us it’s just a slight imbalance which nature will eventually correct.

  2. Robert

    Isn’t extinction one outcome that could be defined as what natures correction could look like?

    I don’t think many people realize that even small changes in temperature allow certain biological forms to wither and die or become awakened and flourish. New diseases will spring up that we’ve never seen before. Some of those biological forms will be seen as diseases that can be lethal, kind of like the bubonic plague and other lethal diseases were before we knew what caused them.

    Not to mention the mass migrations of people as they are leave areas that become intolerable and inhospitable because of the heat and lack of water. Central America and the SW of the USA are anticipated to become those kinds of regions. Not tomorrow or in the next decade but I’d say in about 50 years, the population centers of the world are going to look much different.

  3. Nothing humans do at this point will stop these changes from occurring. If we stopped all emissions today the conditions described in the article will not begin to mitigate for several decades. Our governments have failed to make the changes needed to avoid this & are failing to adapt to the changes to come. As individuals we can only adapt to the problems as they arise & hope we can avoid the worst. I would very much like to see our planet in 100 years to observe the changes.

  4. benfrommo

    While it is true that we have hit 400 PPM of THIS particular heat-trapping gas, there is another heat trapping gas that is much more potent than CO2. Water vapor by itself is a much more potent green house gas and changes in CO2 are just as likely to be over-ridden by smaller changes in water vapor content based on natural variation. What drives this is another debate that no scientist truly knows the correct answer.

    But what scientists DID do was assume that the warming they could not explain over the last 100 years was caused by CO2. This is a mistake borne out of arrogance assuming they know all there is to know about the climate, but the evidence after the fact shows us that it is probably NOT CO2 which is driving our current warming.

    Making that assumption might have been the first mistake scientists made, but the second mistake was assuming that the Earth would go into a tail-spin due to increasing CO2. Despite the fact that our planet has seen CO2 levels at 7% of the atmosphere (compared to 0.04% today) , scientists also assume that water vapor feed-backs are going to be positive (despite no evidence of this) and thusly they believed that despite millions of years of our planet never going into this tail-spin at much higher levels of CO2 that the world would go into such a tail-spin and disaster would strike this time. The reasoning for this assumption is unknow, but perhaps it is another arrogant decision to decide we understand the climate better than history tells us.

    Perhaps the ice core data was confusing 30 years ago and the tail wagging the dog is a defensible mistake. But today the data is clear that it is more likely that the cause is temperature change and the effect is increaseing CO2.

    This second mistake is the cornerstone for AGW activism today because without a catastrophe of positive feed-backs, the small amount of warming presented by our influence on CO2 levels will end up being gentle and beneficial. And so instead of a warming of a gentle 1.0 Degrees C, we end up with 3.0 degrees C of warming which is only possible through positive feed-back which as I mentioned have never been witnessed on our planet yet or in the past.

    In essence, it is more probable that a doubling of CO2 will only result in temperature increases closer to the 1.0 degree C level which is below the “threshold for catastrophe” which was arbitrarilly picked to be 2.0 degree C.

    And so, there is nothing to worry about. We will probably see some beneficial warming which will help every species on this planet. And despite the fact that people get scared, we have only climate change itself to fear because the planet will go back into an ice age at some point and we will have to figure out how to deal with extreme cold which is much worse for humanity and life in general that any small amounts of warming.

    Fret not, the climate will always change and it has done so for billions of years without our influence and just as quickly it will change at some point without our influence despite our extreme arrogance and simply brush humans off like a dog brushing a flea off. But our increases in CO2 caused by emissions will not be that cause.

    Having said all of that, mitigation is still a terrible idea even assuming the scientists are correct. It is 50 times more expensive to simply adapt to climate change than to mitigate it. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/05/02/help-launch-climate-skeptic-film-project-50-to-1/ This is from the IPCC’s own calculations and therefore there is nothing we should do except plan on adaptation in advance.

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