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NOAA: Carbon Wise, We Are Back in the Pliocene Era

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Highest carbon emissionsThe global average concentration of the greenhouse gas surpassed 400 parts per million in March this year. These levels haven’t been seen in over 3 million years, well before humans walked on earth.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released these findings from their latest global measurements and state these figures is a significant time in human history.

“This marks the fact that humans burning fossil fuels have caused global carbon dioxide concentrations to rise more than 120 parts per million since pre-industrial times. Half of that rise has occurred since 1980.”  said Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network.

Humans are now navigating in uncharted territory, for all our predictions of how climate change may affect life we do not have a time in history to compare with. The last time atmospheric carbon reached these levels giant Mastodons (elephant like animals) roamed Northern America, hunted by saber-toothed cats.

The NOAA estimate that atmospheric carbon will remain beyond 400 parts per million until at least June and that this concentration may become more common in the future.

James Butler, director of NOAA’s Global Monitoring Division, added that it would be difficult to reverse the increases of greenhouse gases which are driving increased atmospheric temperatures. “Elimination of about 80 percent of fossil fuel emissions would essentially stop the rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but concentrations of carbon dioxide would not start decreasing until even further reductions are made and then it would only do so slowly.”

These figures are further proof of human induced climate change and highlight the need for urgent and significant government action from around the world. All eyes will be on Paris in November.

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