Take a Deep Breath

July 2019

Take a Deep Breath

A new world record has been set. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere has reached its highest level in the entire history of mankind. The CO2 content in the atmosphere is measured in ppm (ppm, literally “parts per million”). The level of 415 ppm is now a reality!

This was announced on the website of the Mauna Loa Atmospheric Baseline Observatory, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the USA. Based in Hawaii, the meteorological station was founded in 1958 by Charles David Keeling and is still considered the most accurate CO2 measurement station in the world. The great American climatologist was the first to publicly describe the magnitude of the negative impact that human economic activity has on the planet's climate. He developed a technology for measuring the concentration of carbon dioxide taking into account diurnal changes due to the absorption of CO2 by plants, and systematized the results. Keeling produced data showing that carbon dioxide levels were rising steadily in what became known as the Keeling Curve.

The record has not become a sensation. Just a few years ago, pollution reached a level of 400 ppm, and very quickly (in 2017) it rose to 410 ppm. Theoretically, the atmosphere was supposed to be ripe for the next five points by the summer of this year. And this is exactly what happened. We should not expect any slowing down in terms of CO2 concentration levels in the future either. The average growth rate will remain at a high level, experts say, and will reach three parts per million annually. Scientists cannot yet give an accurate forecast of how it will affect human civilization. The atmosphere and the surface of the Earth are affected both by the Sun and the planet’s own internal heat. Carbon dioxide molecules block the heat from rising and the greater their concentration, the higher the temperature will be on the planet. One of the popular predictions is that the past is awaiting us in the future. Indeed, hundreds of millions of years ago, in times of global warming, trees were growing at the South Pole. However, we first must survive to see this. Carbon dioxide accumulates not only in the air, but also in the water. This leads to the emergence of vast dead zones.

Most scientists, if not all, see the use of fossil fuels as the main reason for the accumulation of CO2.