A Milestone for Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere

Oct 4, 2016

By John Schwartz

Climate science reached an unhappy milestone last week. And then things went a little crazy.

One of the world’s most important sentinel sites for measuring levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, reported that levels had recently risen above the symbolically important figure of 400 parts per million, and were likely to stay that way “for the indefinite future.”

Because rising amounts of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas, in the atmosphere have been linked to climate change, scientists suggest that rising above 400 parts per million line makes it even harder to prevent global temperatures from rising beyond the goal of two degrees Celsius agreed to in Paris. It has been millions of years since atmospheric levels of CO2 have risen so high.

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