The level of planet-warming carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere reached a record high in May this year, continuing its relentless climb. Carbon dioxide levels are currently more than 50% than they were before the industrial revolution, according to a recently released databy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Scientists announced on June 3 that carbon dioxide measured at NOAA’s weather station atop the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii peaked in May at 421 parts per million, pushing the atmosphere further into territory not seen since the preindustrial age.
As power plants, automobiles, farms, and other sources throughout the world continued to pump large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the concentration of the gas is highest in four million years.
Emissions totaled 36.3 billion tons in 2021, the highest level in human history.
“The science is irrefutable: humans are altering our climate in ways that our economy and our infrastructure must adapt to,” said NOAA’s administrator Rick Spinrad.
“We can see the impacts of climate change around us every day. The relentless increase of carbon dioxide measured at Mauna Loa is a stark reminder that we need to take urgent, serious steps to become a more Climate Ready Nation,” Mr. Spinrad added.
As the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rises, the Earth warms, resulting in higher flooding, more intense heat, drought, and increasing wildfires, which are already affecting millions of people across the world.