There are a number of ways of measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide. I have thought the most useful measurements come from Mona Loa in Hawaii, which regularly (recently) has been recording measurements in excess of 400 parts per million but the World Meteorological Organisation measures the average concentration across the world, and although its figures are not 100% accurate they are scientifically robust and reliable. Their measurements show 396 parts per million but what is more significant is that they show that atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is growing at its fastest rate since 1984, notwithstanding all the treaties, measures, carbon credits, fine words and all the other means humanity has adopted in what has so far proved to be a futile attempt to halt or even limit the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
The rate of increase is about ¾ of one percent a year, and this figure seems to approximately tally with the rate of increase reported at Mona Loa which recorded for the week beginning on August 31, 2014 396.28 ppm compared with 393.94 ppm one year ago.
It would be easy, but painful, to halt the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. So far humanity has shown no appetite for the measures required. We do not understand what level of atmospheric carbon dioxide is dangerous, because as oceans take up the heat and the oscillations in the seas and the air complicate the picture we cannot readily find consensus amongst those who know what level of atmospheric concentration will prove the end for humanity.
We know that 50,000 parts per million will be toxic for humans, but at the present rate of increase that toxicity is still about 25,000 years away. At 10,000 parts per million people will feel drowsy and lethargic. However, the problem with atmospheric carbon dioxide in large concentrations will not first show itself in the health of humans; those days are a long way away; the problem will manifest in the changes to the rather delicate climatic conditions that will happen in the atmosphere in which humans live, breed and die. Those conditions if the present rate of atmospheric concentration continues will probably affect the generation after next most profoundly. The grandchildren of those born today will have to find ways of living in a very harsher climate than we enjoy, and it will be our fault.
Filed under: carbon dioxide, carbon emissions, climate change, global warming | Tagged: atmospheric carbon dioxide, atmospheric concentration, carbon dioxide, climate, climate change, concnetration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, Mona Loa, toxic carbon dioxide levels, World Meteorological Organisation |