Global warming continues as carbon dioxide rises

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As central Texas continues to face 100-degree days, NOAA announced unprecedented carbon dioxide readings, a grim reminder that global warming is here to stay.

Carbon dioxide measurements at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Base Atmospheric Observatory peaked in May at 421 parts per million (ppm) for 2022, according to scientists from NOAA and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. University of California at San Diego. This measurement indicates that carbon dioxide levels have soared to become 50% higher than pre-industrial levels.

As a greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2) traps heat that is reflected from the Earth’s surface, preventing it from escaping into space. While vital for regulating Earth’s temperature, excessive amounts of the gases can cause the planet to heat up too quickly, causing extreme weather conditions including rising temperatures, droughts and floods, and severe storms. tropical.

This has devastating consequences for life on Earth. Severe droughts can dry out forests, allowing fires to ignite and spread quickly through forest habitats. In the oceans, global warming leads to increased sea surface temperatures and carbon uptake, which makes the water more acidic, leading to coral bleaching. Global warming will also cause major problems for humans. The economic cost of tropical storms, wildfires and other natural disasters will increase dramatically, and rising sea levels will threaten many coastal towns and villages.

Carbon dioxide levels have risen rapidly since the start of the Industrial Revolution. The production and use of coal, oil and natural gas have caused CO2 emissions to skyrocket. According to NOAA, about 1.5 trillion tons of CO2 have been released by humans over the past two centuries, raising carbon dioxide levels from 280ppm in pre-industrial times to well over 400ppm.

Although two centuries may seem like a long time, it’s just a chunk of geological history. To put things into perspective, the last time CO2 levels were above 400 ppm was 4.1 to 4.5 million a few years ago, during the Pliocene Climatic Optimum. It was a time when sea level was 5 to 25 meters higher than today’s sea level, and many ice-covered areas were now covered in forest.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientist Charles David Keeling began measuring CO2 at Mauna Loa in 1958. Since then, Mauna Loa has become the world’s benchmark for atmospheric measurements due to its prime location at over 11,000 feet above sea level and its isolation from pollution. and vegetation.

Through his measurements, Keeling was the first to discover that CO2 the measures were increasing every year. Despite these discoveries and subsequent research into the consequences, there has yet to be a successful collective effort to slow CO2 emissions. The steadily increasing measurements at Mauna Loa are the result.

Teresa H. Sadler