Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Atmospheric CO2 Is at a Record High

October 30, 2017

Surprising almost nobody, the United Nations says globally averaged concentrations of carbon dioxide have increased again, reaching 403.3 parts per million in 2016. That’s up from 400.00 in 2015, and is said to be the highest level in 800,000 years. The figures are taken from the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, which is put together every year by the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization.

The report says that the new high is a result of both the strong El Niño event and human activities. It also points out that “the rate of increase of atmospheric CO2 over the past 70 years is nearly 100 times larger than that at the end of the last ice age,” adding that “such abrupt changes in the atmospheric levels of CO2 have never before been seen.”

In a statement accompanying the news, World Meteorological Organization secretary-general Petteri Taalas points out what that means for the planet and humankind:

Without rapid cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, we will be heading for dangerous temperature increases by the end of this century, well above the target set by the Paris climate change agreement … The laws of physics mean that we face a much hotter, more extreme climate in the future … Future generations will inherit a much more inhospitable planet.

And the U.N.’s head of Environment, Erik Solheim, follows up with what that means for policy makers:

The numbers don't lie. We are still emitting far too much and this needs to be reversed. The last few years have seen enormous uptake of renewable energy, but we must now redouble our efforts to ensure these new low-carbon technologies are able to thrive. We have many of the solutions already to address this challenge. What we need now is global political will and a new sense of urgency.

Which some countries are demonstrating. And, er, some definitely aren’t.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

This new data poisoning tool lets artists fight back against generative AI

The tool, called Nightshade, messes up training data in ways that could cause serious damage to image-generating AI models. 

Rogue superintelligence and merging with machines: Inside the mind of OpenAI’s chief scientist

An exclusive conversation with Ilya Sutskever on his fears for the future of AI and why they’ve made him change the focus of his life’s work.

Data analytics reveal real business value

Sophisticated analytics tools mine insights from data, optimizing operational processes across the enterprise.

The Biggest Questions: What is death?

New neuroscience is challenging our understanding of the dying process—bringing opportunities for the living.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.