Carbon dioxide in atmosphere at highest level for 5 million years

Carbon dioxide in atmosphere at highest level for 5 million years

Atmosphere rising at fastest rate since records began

TOM BAWDEN 

FRIDAY 10 MAY 2013

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has breached the symbolically important level of 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 5 million years after rising at its fastest rate since records began. Average daily CO2 levels jumped by 2.74 ppm in the first 17 weeks of 2013, compared to last year, the biggest increase since the benchmark monitoring stations high on the Hawaiian volcano of Mauna Loa began taking measurements in 1958.Experts blamed most of the increase on rising emissions from China and India, which still rely heavily on coal for their energy, but said other factors could also be partially responsible, such as a reduced absorption of CO2 by forests and plants.

Registering a huge landmark on the climate change map – albeit a predictable and inevitable one – the monitoring stations recorded a CO2 concentration of 400.03 ppm on Thursday.

The elevated carbon emission reading harks back to the Pliocene period, between 3m and 5m years ago, when global average temperatures were 3 or 4C hotter than today, the Arctic was ice-free, sea levels were about 40m higher and jungles covered northern Canada.

It fuelled fears that CO2 emissions – widely, although not exclusively, regarded as being at least partially responsible for the sustained rise in temperature since the Industrial Revolution – were increasing at a faster rate than previously thought, with potentially disastrous consequences across the world.

Ed Davey, Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said: “This isn’t just a symbolic milestone, it’s yet another piece of clear scientific evidence of the effect human activity is having on our planet.”

He added that the development further underlined the need to decarbonise the UK economy and secure the legally binding deal that the world’s leading economies have agreed to finalise by 2015.

Al Gore added: “Take this day and the milestone it represents to reflect on the fragility of our civilisation and the planetary ecosystem on which it depends.”

Jon Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “This is a landmark moment for humankind, a milestone every bit as important as when the global population passed six then seven billion.”

The Hawaiian monitoring stations are run by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. They have been the benchmark since 1958 because Hawaii is so far from large population centres.

The first reading, made in March 1958, was 315ppm. In the early 1960s the CO2 emissions reading was going up at a rate of 0.7ppm a year, but the increase has since accelerated to 2.1ppm.

The concentration of CO2 typically peaks in May, before falling until October, as plant growth in the northern hemisphere’s summer absorbs the gas, and then goes up again during winter and spring.

Experts said it could take hundreds of years for the full effect of the higher CO2 concentration to be felt, for example by gradually changing ecosystem through the melting of ice caps in Antartica and Greenland.

May 10, 2013 9:19 pm

CO2 at highest level for millions of years

By Pilita Clark, Environment Correspondent

The level of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere has hit its highest level in millions of years, scientists said on Friday, focusing fresh attention on the risks of climate change.

The average daily level of carbon dioxide, the most important of the man-made greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, has risen above 400 parts per million, according to Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory, where researchers have been recording CO2 levels since 1958.

The record is not a surprise, given the amount of CO2emitted as fossil fuels such as coal are burnt around the world. But it is a significant symbolic landmark for scientists who have long warned that the heat-trapping effects of carbon dioxide raise the risk of potentially dangerous climate change in coming decades.

“The last time in the earth’s history when we saw similar levels of CO2 in the atmosphere was probably about 4.5m years ago when the world was warmer on average by three or four degrees Celsius than it is today,” said Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London.

“There was no permanent ice sheet on Greenland, sea levels were much higher, and the world was a very different place.”

In addition, the rate of increase in CO2 concentrations has accelerated from about 0.7 ppm per year in the late 1950s to 2.1 ppm per year during the past 10 years.

“That increase is not a surprise to scientists,” said Pieter Tans of the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “The evidence is conclusive that the strong growth of global CO2emissions from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas is driving the acceleration.”

The average global temperature has already risen about 0.8C since pre-industrial times as carbon dioxide levels have increased. Many scientists fear warming of 2C or more will cause a far less predictable climate, with many more incidents of extreme weather such as the disastrous floods and droughts many countries have experienced in recent years.

What happens from here on still matters to climate, and it’s still under our control. It mainly comes down to how much we continue to rely on fossil fuels for energy

– Ralph Keeling, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

It is widely thought that, to avoid serious climate risks, CO2 levels should not exceed 450 ppm.

“There’s no stopping CO2 from reaching 400 ppm,” said Ralph Keeling of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. “That’s now a done deal. But what happens from here on still matters to climate, and it’s still under our control. It mainly comes down to how much we continue to rely on fossil fuels for energy.”

Environmental groups said the 400 ppm level was a sign of the need for a global deal at the 2015 UN climate talks in Paris, where countries will try to agree on how best collectively to tackle global warming.

“It challenges us all to come to terms with the fact that fossil fuels need to stay in the ground and that, instead, we need to switch to renewable alternatives if we want to avoid dangerous climate change in the future,” said David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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