Despite the slight hopes that global shutdowns amidst the worldwide pandemic may prove helpful for the climate crisis, additional evidence confirms that there is no such silver lining.
Freshly released measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels show that the levels of the heat-trapping chemical have increased to levels never before recorded.
The month of May recorded the greatest level of CO2 so far this year, as the concentration averaged 419.13 parts per million (ppm), researchers of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced last Monday.
Pieter Tans, a senior climate scientist from the NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory, explained that we are adding approximately 40 billion metric tons of CO2 pollution to the atmosphere yearly.
“If we want to avoid catastrophic climate change, the highest priority must be to reduce CO2 pollution to zero at the earliest possible date,” he added.
The latest peak is, according to the scientist, the highest monthly average since accurate atmospheric measurement commenced six decades ago.
However, the realistic scale of that result can’t be quantified in decades, as you’d have to analyze much further in the past to uncover Earth’s atmosphere as overloaded with carbon dioxide as it is currently.
Estimates suggest that the time of the Pliocene, particularly between 4.1 to 4.5 million years ago, was the last episode of a similar atmospheric burden of CO2.
We know that because researchers have reconstructed past atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide via complex proxy methods, like carbon isotope compositions found in sea sediments from numerous ocean spots across the globe.
The most significant levels of accumulated atmospheric CO2 during the late Pliocene meant that the world was a lot different so many years ago, approximately 2 to 3 degrees Celsius warmer than the pre-industrial-revolution reference.