Greenhouse Gas Concentrations Hit High, Likely to Become 'Permanent Reality'

Illustration for article titled Greenhouse Gas Concentrations Hit High, Likely to Become 'Permanent Reality'

A new bulletin from the World Meteorological Organization reports that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached another new record high in 2014 that could become a ‘permanent reality.’

The bulletin explains that the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 has reached 397.7 parts per million (ppm) in 2014—close to the (largely symbolic) 400ppm milestone that climate scientists often talk about. In the Northern hemisphere, levels rose above the 400ppm level during Spring 2014.

In the press release accompanying the report, WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud sums things up:

“Every year we report a new record in greenhouse gas concentrations. Every year we say that time is running out. We have to act NOW to slash greenhouse gas emissions if we are to have a chance to keep the increase in temperatures to manageable levels... The laws of physics are non-negotiable.”


He goes on to point out that CO2 levels above 400 parts per million look set to become “a permanent reality.” It’s worth noting that the WMO only publishes figures relating to atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases—the work doesn’t consider emissions.

The report also warns of the interactions–and resulting amplification of warming effects—caused by interactions between rising level of atmospheric CO2 and water vapour in the air. Warmer air caused by higher CO2 levels, it notes, can hold more water vapor. In turn, higher water vapor levels in the air also cause greater warming. Indeed, the bulletin also points out that radiative forcing – the technical term used to describe the warming that affects Earth – rose by 36 percent between 1990 and 2014.

The report comes just three weeks ahead of the Paris climate talks, where world leaders will meet in an attempt to navigate a path to effectively cutting emissions.

[WMO via Guardian]

Image by Rob under Creative Commons license


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Sean Malloy

Ahh, the Paris climate talks... our last chance to take action against climate change. Well, at least it’s our last ‘last chance’, one more in a fifteen-year series of ‘last chances’ to take action against climate change:

Bonn, 2001 — billed as the ‘last chance’ for the Kyoto Protocol. Time Magazine, 16 Jul 2001

Montreal, 2005 — “...your meeting in Montreal represents a last chance for action.” The Independent, 28 Nov 2005

Bali, 2007 — World leaders will converge on Bali today for the start of negotiations which experts say could be the last chance to save the Earth from catastrophic climate change. The New Zealand Herald, 3 Dec 2007

Posnan, 2008 — The world will “suicide” if it cannot strike a strong climate pact soon, Australian environmental scientist Tim Flannery has warned. The Age, 9 Dec 2008

Copenhagen, 2009 — It is now 12 years since Kyoto was created. This makes Copenhagen the world’s last chance to stop climate change before it passes the point of no return... Reuters, Feb 27 2009

Cancun, 2010 — Jairem Ramesh, the Indian environment minister, sees it as the “last chance” for climate change talks to succeed... The Telegraph (UK), 29 Nov 2010

Durban, 2011 — Rev. Dr. Olav Fyske Tveit, who leads the World Council of Churches, says the upcoming climate conference in South Africa is mankind’s ‘last opportunity’ to address climate change. Spero News, 27 Nov 2011

Doha, 2012 — Tomorrow: the earth’s last chance with climate change? The Examiner, 25 Nov 2012

Warsaw, 2013 — Is the Warsaw Climate Change Conference a last-chance summit? Sustainable Mobility, 14 Nov 2013

Lima, 2014 — Last chance: Change needed for climate negotiations in Lima 2014. WWF Global, 23 Nov 2013

Paris, 2015 — The UN meeting in December is “the last chance” to avert dangerous climate change, according to the Earth League. BBC News 22 Apr 2015