Climate: Three greenhouse gases, three all-time highs

Source: Climate: Three greenhouse gases, three all-time highs

three most important heat-trapping gases: carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.


And according to a new study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, emissions of those three greenhouse gases continued to surge last year to historic highs.

Global average carbon dioxide concentrations jumped last year, “extending the highest sustained rate of CO2 increases” in NOAA’s 65 years of record-keeping. Methane and nitrous oxide levels also rose sharply last year. All this despite a wave of global policy measures and economic incentives designed to wean the world off fossil fuels.

These weren’t just one-off anomalies. In each case, the rising emissions continued a long-term trend. By analyzing more than 15,000 air samples from around the world, NOAA found that the upticks in emissions last year “were in line with the steep increases observed during the past decade.”

The result has been a series of profound changes to the planet in a remarkably short amount of time. “The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere today is comparable to where it was around 4.3 million years ago during the mid-Pliocene epoch,” the NOAA report found. That was when the “sea level was about 75 feet higher than today” and “large forests occupied areas of the Arctic that are now tundra.”

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