Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere at highest level since the the Pliocene epoch

"So, the modern climate change we see is big, really big; even by standards of Earth history."

Image Credit: NASA

The current rise in carbon levels on Earth is the highest in more than 3 million years. Researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany said that the last time carbon dioxide was detected at its current level in the atmosphere was during the Pliocene epoch 2.6 to 5.3 million years ago.

The study, which was published in Science Advances, said that while current carbon levels are at 410 parts per million, levels “should not be higher than 280 parts per million without human activity.”

Change in levels of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere since 1984

“It seems we’re now pushing our home planet beyond any climatic conditions experienced during the entire current geological period, the Quaternary, a period that started almost three million years ago and saw human civilization beginning only 11,000 years ago,” Matteo Willeit, lead author of the study, said. “So, the modern climate change we see is big, really big; even by standards of Earth history.”

If “climate inaction” continues by the worlds’ governments, global temperature could rise more than 2º Celsius above industrial levels in the next 50 years, which will causes sea level to rise 6.5 feet over the next 200 years.

Researchers are urging the world to end human activity that is causing climate change, such as fossil fuel exploration and carbon emissions, and pass legislation to transition to a zero-carbon economy.


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