Last week, the United Nation’s weather agency released a report stating that more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases were released into our atmosphere between 2012 and 2013 than any other year since 1984; a finding that the United Nation claims puts us on the fast track for irreversible global warming.
The annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin composed by The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) showed that the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere from 2012 to 2013 was 2.9 parts per million, which is the largest increase in 30 years. Due to this increase, the atmospheric CO2 average has grown to 399 parts per million- just 9 ppm away from reaching a troublesome level, according to various scientists. It is believed that if we should reach this level, we could experience sea level rise, drought, and weather severe enough to significantly harm human populations worldwide.
The WMO Secretary General Michel Jarraud stated, “The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin shows that, far from falling, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere actually increased last year at the fastest rate for nearly 30 years,” continuing, “We must reverse this trend by cutting emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases across the board. We are running out of time.”
The WMO also expressed concerns of ocean acidification that causes large-scale die-offs of calcifying organisms such as coral, algae, mollusks, and plankton, and a general decrease in biodiversity. The report notes that the ocean currently absorbs about one quarter of human caused CO2 emissions, which has reduced the amount in the atmosphere. However, the ocean’s capacity to soak up carbon is decreasing rapidly.
Wendy Watson-Wright, the executive secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO said, “If global warming is not a strong enough reason to cut CO2 emissions, ocean acidification should be, since its effects are already being felt and will increase for many decades to come.”
According to the report, other concentrations are also on the rise. The report stated that atmospheric methane reached a record high of about 1824 parts per billion in 2013, with most of these emissions coming from human activity such as natural gas production and industrial agriculture.
Fortunately, according to the WMO, action can be taken to reduce the atmospheric carbon levels to prevent catastrophic global warming through cooperative international policymaking. The WMO asked policymakers to use this report as a “scientific base for decision-making” to help prevent these dangerous consequences.