Climate scientists warn of rising climate change events as carbon emissions don’t decline

Emissions across the world continue to rise despite nations’ pledges to reduce them.

Scientists warn of an increase in climate change-related events, including heat waves, floods and droughts, if carbon emissions are not reduced.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said its longtime monitoring station in Mauna Loa, Hawaii, averaged 421 parts per million of carbon dioxide for the month of May, when the crucial greenhouse gas reached its annual peak.

Before the Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century, carbon dioxide levels were 280 parts per million, scientists say, so humans significantly altered the atmosphere.

Some activists and scientists want a level of 350 parts per million.

Industrial carbon dioxide emissions come from the combustion of coal, oil and gas.

“In other words, if you measure the atmosphere, you don’t see anything happening right now in terms of change.”

The numbers show a “serious” problem

Outside scientists said the figures show a serious climate change problem.

“Watching these gradual but persistent increases in CO2 from year to year is a bit like watching a train speed down the track towards you in slow motion. It’s terrifying,” said Andrea Dutton, a climatologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“If we stay on the track with the intention of jumping away at the last minute, we risk dying of heat stroke on the tracks before it even gets to us.”

University of Illinois climatologist Donald Wuebbles said that without reducing carbon pollution, “we will see increasingly damaging levels of climate change, more heat waves, more floods , more droughts, more big storms and rising sea levels.”

This year’s carbon dioxide level is almost 1.9 ppm higher than a year ago, a slightly larger jump than between May 2020 and May 2021.

The pandemic slowdown reduced global carbon emissions a bit in 2020, but they rebounded last year.

Both changes were small compared to the amount of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere each year, especially since carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for hundreds to a thousand years, Tans said.

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Scientists blame climate change for India’s deadly heat wave.

The world emits about 10 billion metric tons of carbon into the air each year, much of which is absorbed by the oceans and plants.

This is why May is the peak of global carbon dioxide emissions.

Plants in the northern hemisphere begin to suck up more carbon dioxide in the summer as they grow.

CO2 levels as high as in the Pliocene era

NOAA said carbon dioxide levels are now about the same as 4.1-4.5 million years ago in the Pliocene era, when temperatures were 3.9C warmer and the sea level was 5 to 25 meters higher than today.

South Florida, for example, was completely underwater. These are conditions that human civilization has never experienced.

The reason it was much warmer and the seas were higher millions of years ago at the same level of carbon dioxide as they are today is that in the past the natural increase in carbon dioxide levels was much more gradual.

With carbon remaining in the air for hundreds of years, temperatures have warmed for longer periods of time and have stayed there.

The Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets have melted over time, dramatically raising sea levels and making Earth darker and reflecting less of the planet’s heat, Tans and other scientists said.


Teresa H. Sadler