A global indicator released on Monday showed that despite a significant reduction in travel and many commercial activities in the first few months of the pandemic, the carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere reached the highest level in modern history in May.
Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego stated that these findings are based on the airborne data at the NOAA weather station in Mauna Loa. The carbon dioxide content is derived in Hawaii, which is the highest level since the measurement began 63 years ago.
The measurement named after Charles David Keeling was the scientist who began tracking carbon dioxide there in 1958, and it is the global benchmark for atmospheric carbon content. The NOAA Mountaintop Observatory’s instrument recorded a carbon dioxide concentration of approximately 419 parts per million last month, up from 417 parts per million in May 2020.
The carbon content in the air is now as high as about 4 million. According to the emissions report, many years ago, the sea level was 24 meters (78 feet) higher than today, and the average temperature was 7 degrees Fahrenheit higher than before the industrial revolution.
According to Pieter Tans, a scientist with NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory carbon dioxide is a key driver of climate change. The results of the study indicate that reducing the use of fossil fuels, deforestation and other practices that generate carbon emissions must be the highest priority to avoid catastrophic consequences.
Tans wrote in the report,
“We add about 40 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution to the atmosphere each year. That’s the mountain of carbon that we dig up from the earth, burn, and release into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide year after year.”
According to the report, despite the pandemic lockdown, scientists still cannot see the total carbon in the atmosphere. Part of the decline is due to carbon releases from forest fires and the natural behavior of carbon in the atmosphere.
The CO2 level measured was unaffected by the Hawaiian volcano eruption, Tans said, adding that the station was far enough away from the active volcano that the measurement would not be distorted, and the CO2 plume would occasionally be removed from the data.
Scientists urge the global community to switch to solar and wind power instead of fossil fuels, warning that so far, the world has not been able to slow down, much less reverse the annual level of carbon dioxide. Tans said,
“The solution is right before our eyes. If we take practical action as soon as possible, we can still avoid catastrophic climate change.”