June 19, 2020
Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached their annual peak in May, and once again were the highest in human history according to a June 4, 2020 New York Times report.
Despite the economic collapse resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to sharp declines in carbon dioxide emissions, the amount of the greenhouse gas has continued to climb. The May monthly average was 417.2 parts per million, according to scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.
Separately, researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported a slightly lower May average of 417.1 parts per million.
The readings are about one-half of 1 percent higher than the previous high, in May 2019. The year-to-year increase of about 2.5 parts per million is in line with the average annual increase during the past decade. Half a century ago, the average annual increase was just 0.8 parts per million.
“People may be surprised to hear that the response to the coronavirus outbreak hasn’t done more to influence CO2 levels,” said Ralph Keeling, a geochemist who runs the Scripps Oceanography CO2 program. The project, begun by his father, Charles D. Keeling, has been taking readings since 1958 at a NOAA observatory on Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii.
“But the buildup of CO2 is a bit like trash in a landfill,” he said. “As we keep emitting, it keeps piling up. The COVID – 19 crisis has slowed emissions, but not enough to show up perceptibly at Mauna Loa.”
The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere currently varies by about 10 parts per million during the year. It reaches a peak each May, before the widespread growth of vegetation in the Northern Hemisphere, which has about two-thirds of the Earth’s land mass, removes some of the gas through photosynthesis.
The May average first topped 400 parts per million in 2014. The latest full-year average, for 2018, was 407.4 parts per million, about 45 percent higher than the preindustrial average of 280.
What this means to you
Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached their annual peak in May and once again were the highest in human history. The May monthly average was 417.2 parts per million, according to scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.
MIRATECH can help
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