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Earth’s Atmosphere Surpasses Another Climate Change Threshold In Recorded History

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New data released on May 2 shows carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere going beyond a new threshold with a monthly average exceeding 410 parts per million.

Specifically, the average concentration of carbon dioxide hits 410.31 parts per million for the month of April. This is according to the measurement series being conducted at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii using the Keeling Curve system under the Scripps CO2 program.

Marks The First Time In History

The Scripps CO2 program was started in 1956 by Charles David Keeling and has since been recording the behavior of the Earth's atmosphere as it endures the impact of climate change.

The measurement using the Keeling Curve began in 1958. Specifically, the Keeling Curve notes the fluctuating trend of carbon dioxide in a given period. 

The new data gathered in the month of April is the first time when the Mauna Loa recorded a monthly average that soared past the threshold of 410 parts per million. Furthermore, it is also the first time that the Keeling Curve recorded a 30 percent increase in carbon dioxide concentration on a global scale.

Rising carbon dioxide exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time in human history in 2013.

Carbon dioxide has been rising and falling even before the Industrial Revolution. However, there had been no instance when it soared past 300 parts per million in the last 800,000 years.

Burning Of Fossil Fuels

Carbon dioxide is a form of greenhouse gas that can trap and restrain solar radiation in the atmosphere. Human activities contribute greatly to the production of carbon dioxide. In fact, the reason behind the rise of the greenhouse gas is extremely straightforward.

"We keep burning fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide keeps building up in the air. It's essentially as simple as that," says Ralph Keeling, a geochemist and the current director of the Scripps CO program.

This opinion was echoed by Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University. She explains that surpassing another threshold is not what concerned her. More troubling is the fact that carbon dioxide keeps on rising. It only means that human activities which are harmful to Earth's atmosphere are "continuing full speed ahead."

Marshall Shepherd, a climate scientist, and director of the Atmospheric Sciences program at the University of Georgia highlights that fluctuating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a natural occurrence. It is in the nature of this gas to rise and fall but the rate at which it is rising is never seen before because humans "are the new kid on Earth's block."

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