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Atmospheric CO2 Increases Have Hit a 30-Year High

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Don't panic (you should panic) but the rate at which the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are rising just hit a 30-year high—and if rates don't slow, then we'll soon breach the levels that experts claim are safe.

The levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide rose faster between 2012-2013 than they have done since 1984. If the rate of accumulation doesn't slow, then the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere will reach 400 parts per million in the next two years. Just for your information, that's above the threshold of 350ppm that most climate scientists believe to be tolerable.

Why the dramatic rates of increase? Well, the World Meteorological Organization points out that the seas have long been swallowing carbon and, as they do so, acidifying. The only problem with that otherwise useful process—for our atmosphere, at least, not necessarily the contents of the oceans—is that with increased acidity comes a reduction in their capacity to take on more carbon. The Organization points out that the "current rate of ocean acidification appears unprecedented at least over the last 300 million years," and as a result our atmosphere is shouldering the burden.


With a stream of UN reports laying the rise of carbon emissions at human kind's feet and the knock-on effect of large-scale climatic shifts now being inevitable, then today is fine day indeed to panic. Or, you know, actually do something to save the planet.

Image: Shutterstock / Joshua Haviv