Highest carbon dioxide levels in the air recorded in modern history

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An international indicator on Monday revealed that the carbon amount in the world’s atmosphere last month touched its highest level in recent history amid the huge cut in commuting and several economic activities due to the pandemic.

The findings were according to the amount of carbon dioxide in the air at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather station in Hawaii, according to the  University of California San Diego’s NOAA and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. They said the record was so far the highest level since the assessment was done more than 60 years ago.

The carbon dioxide-tracking measure, dubbed as the Keeling Curve named after Charles David Keeling, started in 1958. It serves as an international standard for atmospheric carbon levels.

Last month’s measurement was at 419 parts per million, posing an increase of 417 parts per million than the record in the same period last year. The measurement was attained through the instruments placed at the mountaintop observatory at NOAA.

According to Pieter Tans, NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory scientist, cutting down fossil fuel use, deforestation, among other activities that generate carbon emissions must be prevented to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“We are adding roughly 40 billion metric tonnes of CO2 pollution to the atmosphere per year,” the scientist said. “That is a mountain of carbon that we dig up out of the Earth, burn, and release into the atmosphere as CO2 – year after year.”

The report also noted that last month’s carbon dioxide levels were as ample as what was recorded about four million years ago.

The total amount of carbon in the atmosphere has not fallen even due to the pandemic, scientists noted, attributing the increase on carbon-producing wildfires and also with the natural behaviour of carbon in the air.

Abigail Kouma

Abigail is a caffeine-fueled bookworm and journalist from Marin County. She's passionate about art and constantly searching for new ways to express creativity and stay on beat with the cultural scene in SF.