Congrats, World, carbon levels are at an all-time high


Chase Ballas

In future generations, the month “September 2016” is going to mean something. When New York City is underwater, it is going to mean something. When the polar caps are gone, it is going to mean something.  When extinction rates are at an all-time high, it is going to mean something. When people can no longer deny the fact that humans have caused climate change, it is going to mean something.

On Sept. 29, 2016, the Mauna Loa Observatory, the world’s leading site for monitoring carbon dioxide levels, reported that daily and weekly global atmospheric carbon levels in the month of September were over 400ppm, a line that signals great danger to the climate. September is generally the time when carbon levels are at their lowest, since there is increased photosynthetic activity by plants in the Northern Hemisphere, which absorbs carbon dioxide. But since carbon levels did not drop below 400ppm at their lowest, it is predicted that the global atmospheric carbon levels will never go below 400ppm in the next several decades, possibly ever, due to the challenges associated with carbon sequestering technology. 

Safe atmospheric carbon levels are around 350ppm. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels prior to the Industrial Revolution, which brought the extreme consumption of fossil fuels, were estimated to be around 280ppm. You can do the math.

But, why should we care? After all, we spent the past 20 years or so passing global treaties on the environment, from the Kyoto Protocol in 1992, to the Paris agreement in 2015, and they were all pretty useless. Of course, they are not effective unless the world’s leading power, and second largest emitter, follows through. 

And let us just look at the future of United States for a second: Maybe it’s the Republican who thinks climate change is a Chinese conspiracy. Maybe it’s the Democrat with her hands in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry. Who it could have been was the old guy who spoke about environmentalism as a central part of his campaign, but he was labelled as being an “extremist.”

Fun fact: The Clean Air Act is not working.

Funnier Fact: Fracking is not the answer to energy sustainability.

And the cherry on top: 2016 has cemented itself as the hottest year ever recorded in the history of the world. And there’s no going back.