Carbon dioxide is the gas that's most responsible for global warming and climate change, specifically, the carbon dioxide that is dumped into the atmosphere because of human activity. Its level in the atmosphere has now reached a new record high when compared to the last 800,000 years. Right now, carbon dioxide is at 410 parts per million –one ppm is roughly equivalent to 5 liters of material in an Olympic-size pool.
This amount is the highest in all of recorded history and could be the highest recorded in at least 800,000 years since the dawn of humanity, notes a report by USAToday. Before the industrial revolution –a period after which industrial growth led to vast pollution and often considered to be the starting point of human-induced climate change– carbon dioxide is believed to fluctuate in the atmosphere, but never exceeded 300 ppm, notes the report.
The study was carried out by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography where the longest record of carbon dioxide is maintained. "We keep burning fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide keeps building up in the air," said Scripps scientist Ralph Keeling. "It's essentially as simple as that." Keeling and his father before him- Charles David Keeling have made and kept a record of atmospheric CO2 every year since 1958, notes the report.
For the month of April 2018, the CO2 levels averaged out at around 410.31 ppm for the month of April. This is the first time since the record was started that the ppm has exceeded 410 ppm. It also marks a 30 percent rise in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere since the "Keeling Curve" was started in 1958.
"As a scientist, what concerns me the most is not that we have passed yet another round-number threshold but what this continued rise actually means: that we are continuing full speed ahead with an unprecedented experiment with our planet, the only home we have," Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, tweeted Thursday.
Prior to the dawn of the industrial revolution, CO2 levels were at 280 ppm, this was the late 1800s. Since then large volumes of greenhouse gases were burned to fuel human development and as a result, carbon dioxide gas was released in massive quantities.
Gases like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are speeding up climate change, making "the planet more dangerous and inhospitable for future generations," the World Meteorological Organization said in a release.