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New Carbon Dioxide Levels

Posted by Laura Frederick, Environment & Health Intern on April 11, 2014

This past week, carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere exceeded 402 parts per million (ppm), the highest carbon dioxide levels in 800,000 years. The observations came from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.

Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is the most important greenhouse gas driving manmade climate change. It continues to build up in the Earth’s atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas.

Last year, the Mauna Loa Observatory reported that atmospheric CO2 levels reached 400 ppm in mid-May. Levels continue to increase at ever-faster rates. Carbon dioxide levels peak every spring, but this year the threshold was surpassed two months earlier than last year.

Isn’t this reason enough to tell the Environmental Protection Agency that we need strong limits on CO2 emissions from power plants?  PSR certainly thinks so!

In the 800,000 years of detailed climate data scientists have recorded, atmospheric CO2 levels have never approached 400 ppm. According to studies, concentrations have not been this high for at least two million years and possibly longer.

Human history has never seen the atmosphere being altered as radically as today. With these alterations come greater changes:  heightened risk of heat waves, drought, floods, severe weather events, and global sea level rise. All of these are impacting human health and life on Earth.

PSR’s Environment and Health program works to educate health professionals and the public about the health risks that climate change poses, and advocates to protect the population from these dangers.  We hope you’ll join us this summer in telling the EPA that for health’s sake, we need strong limits on CO2 emissions from power plants.


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