Monitoring stations all over the arctic are reading greenhouse gas concentrations of 400 parts per million – a grim new milestone that dims hope of reversing runaway climate change. Millions of pounds of methane lay dormant in arctic ice, threatening to accelerate climate change when it melts, violent weather, drought, flooding and other disasters are on the rise, and yet the fossil fuel industry continues to function virtually unabated.
A dangerous milestone
One of the most well-known climate scientists and environmental activists, Bill McKibben named his organization 350.org after the percentage of greenhouse gas concentrations that is considered safe for life on earth to continue.
We have now surpassed that number and there appears to be little hope that government or corporations will do what is necessary to ensure that those concentrations don’t increase.
“The fact that it’s 400 is significant,” Jim Butler, the global monitoring director at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Lab, told The Guardian. “It’s just a reminder to everybody that we haven’t fixed this, and we’re still in trouble.”
Meanwhile, efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions by controlling the coal and oil industries, the main contributors of carbon dioxide trapped in the atmosphere, have been mostly futile. A long string of Climate Change Conferences have been huge failures and governments seem impotent against the fossil fuel lobby.
The global meat production industry is responsible for releasing huge quantities of methane into the atmosphere, which is 72 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Although greenhouse gases occur naturally, since the onset of the industrial age, human-caused emissions have increased by roughly 125 ppm – the highest concentration in roughly 800,000 years, according to Butler. Recent research shows that dinosaurs, which ate vast quantities of greens that were then digested and released as methane gas, may have caused the last global warming event.
Readings taken in Alaska, Greenland, Norway, Iceland and Mongolia show carbon dioxide concentrations of 400ppm or more, but scientists say those numbers will fall in the summertime when plants absorb co2. They add that it is just a matter of time before more southerly locations show readings this high.
Al Gore lambasted governments for their apathetic response to climate change upon hearing the news while the International Energy Agency, which just last week announced that global carbon emissions rose by 3.2% in 2011 to a whopping 34.8 billion tonnes, The Guardian reports, adding that is becoming increasingly unlikely that the world will achieve Europe’s goal of keeping temperatures from increasing by 2 degrees based on our current pollution and greenhouse gas levels.
:: The Guardian
Image credit: melting iceberg, Shutterstock
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