We just reached the 410 parts per million Co2 threshold | RenewEconomy

We just reached the 410 parts per million Co2 threshold

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The world just passed another round-numbered climate milestone. Scientists predicted it would happen this year and lo and behold, it has.

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Climate Central

The world just passed another round-numbered climate milestone. Scientists predicted it would happen this year and lo and behold, it has.

On Tuesday, the Mauna Loa Observatory recorded its first-ever carbon dioxide reading in excess of 410 parts per million (it was 410.28 ppm in case you want the full deal). Carbon dioxide hasn’t reached that height in millions of years. It’s a new atmosphere that humanity will have to contend with, one that’s trapping more heat and causing the climate to change at a quickening rate.


In what’s become a spring tradition like Passover and Easter, carbon dioxide has set a record high each year since measurements began. It stood at 280 ppm when record keeping began at Mauna Loa in 1958. In 2013, it passed 400 ppm. Just four years later, the 400 ppm mark is no longer a novelty. It’s the norm.

“Its pretty depressing that it’s only a couple of years since the 400 ppm milestone was toppled,” Gavin Foster, a paleoclimate researcher at the University of Southampton told Climate Central last month. “These milestones are just numbers, but they give us an opportunity to pause and take stock and act as useful yard sticks for comparisons to the geological record.”

Earlier this year, U.K. Met Office scientists issued their first-ever carbon dioxide forecast. They projected carbon dioxide could reach 410 ppm in March and almost certainly would by April. Their forecast has been borne out with Tuesday’s daily record. They project that the monthly average will peak near 407 ppm in May, setting a monthly record.

Carbon dioxide concentrations have skyrocketed over the past two years due to in part to natural factors like El Niño causing more of it to end up in the atmosphere. But it’s mostly driven by the record amounts of carbon dioxide humans are creating by burning fossil fuels.

“The rate of increase will go down when emissions decrease,” Pieter Tans, an atmospheric scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said. “But carbon dioxide will still be going up, albeit more slowly. Only when emissions are cut in half will atmospheric carbon dioxide level off initially.”

Even when concentrations of carbon dioxide level off, the impacts of climate change will extend centuries into the future. The planet has already warmed 1.8°F (1°C), including a run of 627 months in a row of above-normal heat. Sea levels have risen about a foot and oceans have acidified. Extreme heat has become more common.

All of these impacts will last longer and intensify into the future even if we cut carbon emissions. But we face a choice of just how intense they become based on when we stop polluting the atmosphere.

Right now we’re on track to create a climate unseen in 50 million years by mid-century.

Source: Climate Central. Reproduced with permission.

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  1. trackdaze 3 years ago

    And with methane emmissions and other greenhouse gases the earth is effectively at 500ppm!

    No wonder we just had the hottest month ever experienced without El nino conditions.

    • Steven Gannon 3 years ago

      Reference? Who’s been monitoring methane?

      • George Darroch 3 years ago

        Here’s NOAA’s AGGI, which puts CO2eq at 485 in 2015.


        • Steven Gannon 3 years ago

          Thanks for the link. I’ve thought for a while that climate sensitivity is likely to exceed 3°C based on CO2 levels, now I know why things tend to point higher. A small positive from the data is that modern CH4 levels are constant. If most of these emissions are caused by humans a potential 20% mitigation is possible within ~40 years. It is looking more likely that cattle can be bred that emit very little, also that global demand for gas will fall significantly within a decade or so.

          The more I understand the data, as the more certain I am that we need to act ASAP, and more broadly.

          • D. John Hunwick 3 years ago

            I agree – we DO need to act ASAP. The worry is that as ice melts in the far northern hemisphere, more methane will be released from underground – and that will be nearly impossible to control or reduce.

  2. George Darroch 3 years ago

    We’ve added almost 40ppm since the year 2000. We’ve been absolutely aware of the problem, but for the most part unwilling to do what we need to do to confront and control it.

    I’m more optimistic than I was, but we have a lot of work to do to even turn the corner.

    • MrMauricio 3 years ago

      Emissions need to be reduced by 50% per decade to have a liveable climate maintained

    • D. John Hunwick 3 years ago

      I regrettably am less optimistic because we are running out of time to take action.

      • Colin 3 years ago

        We can only do our best for our kid’s sake.

        • D. John Hunwick 3 years ago

          You are absolutely right! That’s what keeps me going – along with some anger directed at our so called leaders!!

    • neroden 3 years ago

      Well, China is now acting, and India is acting. The US would have been acting if we hadn’t had a COUP in 2000. Bush and Cheney should be executed for crimes against humanity, as should every traitor who aided them. I know it won’t help the future, but it would be satisfying to see the traitors hanged.

      • Chris Marshalk 3 years ago

        India is acting on bringing the Adani coal mine to Australia. Both Adani & Turdball have their heads up each others arse.

  3. nakedChimp 3 years ago

    renewables alone wont do it, you gotta change the socio-economic system to aim for sustainable outcomes.
    At the moment the aim is more in tune with parasitic behavior.

    • MaxG 3 years ago

      Yes, parasitic! With the western world leadership at play, I would not expect anything else!

    • Phil 3 years ago

      Parasitic and Predatory behaviour

      The GREAT news is that the more greedy they get the faster many CONSUMERS will DIY essential services

      The model is unsustainable for many consumers unless the Consumer is part of the model. I.E they have invested in it with money or employment

      Singapore is a leading example of how it should be ( and once was in Australia) with electricity still seen as an essential service so it is heavily regulated

      I firmly believe that Consumers have the power to drive Renewables. Look at the solar panel uptake and assume that is half the job done. Once batteries go in the whole Business model changes

    • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

      Agree with you on most other things but not this. Cost is the key factor. Cost. Cost is fundamental to human survival and should be harnessed to solve this problem. Capitalism can be utilised/harnessed to solve the problem that it created. Let’s face it without it we’re fucked.

      • nakedChimp 3 years ago

        I’m not a preacher for communism or socialism or.. whatever else you can think of.
        Don’t put me into the wrong binder.

        The true cost should be the guide, correct. But capitalism wont give you that. It’s more profitable to chop down that forest over there, put the money into a bank account and in 10 years time you’ll have more in the bank account as if you had left the forest intact and cut it down then.
        It’s also not cost effective to have clean and cheap water/air/food for everyone from a capitalist point of view, as you can earn more if those goods are rare and can be sold for a higher mark up.
        Capitalism has no interest in free information for everyone – like wikipedia – as there is no profit in that.
        Same for cheap medication, no profit.

        Do you get my POV?

        • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

          I didn’t say you were.

        • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

          I get your POV, and yes if there are ever major constraints put on deforestation and pollution including ghgs, such as a carbon price, then I’ll be as happy as Larry, but I just can’t ever see it happening. 60 million Trump voters are too much against it, and a further 90 million who didn’t even bother to vote clearly couldn’t care less about forests and the environment.The only way these groups will get involved in climate action is through buying solar panels, home batteries, electric cars, etc. and they will only buy those if they can save money by doing so.

          • nakedChimp 3 years ago

            I agree somewhat, but the current economic framework won’t be able to stay the course nor survive long enough to see it through.
            No one is talking about that 500 pound gorilla in the room really.

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            There is no possible alternative economic framework than the one we have. The people in democracies just won’t allow it. Even the large single-party states like China have embraced capitalism. I’m curious what is the alternative that you envision? How would you convince 150 million angry, self interested or apathetic people to vote for it?

          • nakedChimp 3 years ago

            Never say impossible.
            How about we start with money?
            Do you have any idea how it works?

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            How it works is this – people like me go to work and earn money which goes into my wallet, then over the course of the week about ten different people and entities gradually remove all of that money from my wallet, and all I get in return is a cup of tea, and if I’m lucky, a biscuit, and then each following week the same thing happens all over again, week after week. The perfect system right?
            Oh, wait a minute….

            But anyways, are you suggesting we 1) ditch money and return to the bartering system? All 7.3 billion of us?

            Or are you simply suggesting 2) further regulation against and mechanisms to price the externalities (pollution, deforresation, etc.) within the existing economic framework?

            If it’s 1) then like I said – impossible.
            If it’s 2) I agree.
            If other, please expound.

          • nakedChimp 3 years ago

            No, I’m neither suggesting barter nor further regulation.
            I thought about money like you did, until about 13 years ago – some sort of ‘Scrooge McDuck picture’ – that it’s all pretty much worked out by capable people or progress and was working as best as anything could.
            Money just being money, you get it, you spend it, done.

            But then I read a couple of books and found that the current ‘system’ is not very old and while overcoming some problems of the former, it itself is not without preventable design flaws. It probably has them due to just being a slight iteration of the old (mainly removing deflation issues) but still being done without engineering input.

            Money is needed to move goods and services from one to another. Without money a diverse & specialized society/economy cant function. It’s like blood that circulates in your body to transport nutrients and waste.
            I can’t come up with a perfect analogy though, as money has a special feature, similar to Yin & Yang or Matter & Antimatter.
            Anyhow, what would you say if in your body was an organ that could withdraw blood from the circulation and only put it back into circulation if after a certain amount of time it would get back more blood to withhold from circulation?
            And it would do this repeatedly?
            You would experience boom & bust cycles in your body functions.
            For some time you would feel good, everything would be fine and then all of a sudden blood would ‘go missing’ and you can’t run anymore or do other stuff without gasping for air.
            Other times you could rip out trees and essentially compete with Hulk, due to so much blood in your system (blood doping).

            This essentially is the reason for short sighted corporate decisions, short sighted politics and a socio-economic system which behaves unsustainable on any scale and matter you can think of.
            It’s the reason for asocial politics, for economic warfare on the third world, for blue collar workers loosing their jobs, etc. pp.
            Once you see it, it’s insane and you might wish you’d rather taken the blue pill.

            PS: sorry for the long post, but even this just scratches the surface. Disqus just isn’t the right medium to lay this out..

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            Thanks for the expansion.

            Yanis Varoufakis describes something similar (if i’m reading it right) to that – a “twin peaks paradox” and the “waste of wealth” that the separation between the debt peak and the idle cash peak causes.


            I’m not sure that his solutions would be all that practical / achievable (again due to the politics which largely caters to antipathy and apathy in the electorate towards solutions to large problems) but he probably gets the description of the situation fairly well right.

          • nakedChimp 3 years ago

            Yanis seems to be under the impression that the positive credit peak is still standing for goods & services (that it can buy, by moving again), but that ship has sailed (by running around on stock markets it already is so much bigger than the economy – it can’t all be spent anymore without inflating away – similar to stranded assets in the energy sphere). He also doesn’t see that the other mountain – the debt peak – is being held by governments and private people and corporations and causes a transfer of wealth to the credit peak all the time (due to how money is being created), growing both at the same time and getting them further apart (that’s what actually breaks the camels back – lender of last resort falling over, ie. the state declaring bankcruptcy – that’s the end).
            The holders of the credit peak actually would need to BUY stuff and consume it instead of investing, to have any impact to reduce the height of these peaks – no other way around it.
            In reality they would have to gift it away (even more extreme than what Gates or Buffet currently do) – because the rich already consume like crazy, or what else would you call their lifestyle?
            The credit peak is growing so fast, they can’t spent it as fast as they get it.
            You can only own so many luxus cars, houses, yachts and drink gold particle boosted champagne for 10.000 a glass..

            The solution I have come across is also pretty old already.. proposed 1920 or there about by a German merchant in Argentinia – not an economist even 😉
            It’s called demurrage. But you can’t apply it to our current legal tender, this would cause hyperinflation over night (and end anyone who tries to implement it as well – probably not even by the rich, there is enough people out there who think they would lose out and stop you for all the wrong reasons – just ask anyone if they would accept negative interest on their savings account I dare you).
            So it’s back to grassroots again, which have to build up a parallel system and hopefully are being left alone.
            Though, the last time this was tried (you only have success in building this up during saturation/depression) – in the 1930s in Austria – the central bank shut it down (the WIR bank is a remnant of something like this).
            Let’s hope the current state of the art ‘tests’ do better and one slips by without being noticed, we could really do without WW3 for a change.

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            It’s not a “credit peak” that he speaks of, it’s a cash peak (or more specifically an “idle” cash peak). There’s a distinct difference.

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            but “demurrage” or rent on profits to persuade prompt re-investment (is that accurate?) – yes it is a brilliant idea to throw into the mix of ideas that will bubble their way up into the mainstream.

          • nakedChimp 3 years ago

            No, demurrage is not a rent on profits.
            As I said. no extra rules.
            Demurrage is a fee on legal tender.
            If the fee was like 3% per year and you would hold onto that 100$ bill for a year, it would be ‘worth’ 97$ at the end of that year.
            Though, there would be lot’s of shops for Joe Average that would happily make a deal with him and ‘lose’ 3% (trade profit 3% less). So Joe Average will not notice that that fee for the money he carries around in his wallet or savings account really.
            But the holders of really big ‘idle credit peaks’ would.
            Which is the whole point.

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            Yes you sound insane mate. WTF is an “idle credit peak”???

            I thought we had established – and given the links that I have provided – that there is an idle cash peak.

          • nakedChimp 3 years ago

            You provided a link to Yanis, who talks of ‘idle cash’ and I – with the knowledge of how fractional reserve banking works, which the modern homo economicus uses since 1946 (when we abolished the gold standard) – can translate this to an ‘idle credit peak’, which has got the same height as the ‘debt peak’.

            I’m really really sorry, but unless you can come up with a convincing model of how the economy and especially the modern monetary system works, I stick with what I know.
            And there the rule is:
            Credit = Debt in any accounting book of banks, the central bank inclusive.
            And Cash, legal tender, money is just credit that can go from one hand to another without the need of accounting books – similar to a voucher.
            Ask any banker you like, they wont tell you anything different.

            PS: modern consumer rebate vouchers.. like flying miles are debt positions in the financials of the companies that create them.

            PPS: You can WTF me all day long, reality won’t be implicated by that.

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            Look, I’d like to have you as a friend – you’re classic value – but I would definitely not like to have you as any kind of financial advisor, with your blah maybe blah what! credit! get it up ya get fucked thinking. Way for me to go broke.

            Hope you don’t take this as an insult, but perhaps motivation for a career change?

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            Where are you, dude?

          • nakedChimp 3 years ago


            I’m an engineer by trade.

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            That explains everything!

          • nakedChimp 3 years ago

            Just because your brain synapses didn’t catch up with the development of the monetary system during the last 70 years is no reason to call me names.
            Especially not after I tried to explain stuff to you as good as I can.

            If you treat ‘potential’ friends like that, I don’t want to be your enemy.

            Enjoy live in your little bubble.

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            I deleted some of those replies – seems I constantly gotta remember I come here to read and be informed and not to get into arguments – on way off topic subjects at that.

          • nakedChimp 3 years ago

            That’s exactly the point. Cash/credit/money is just the positive side of debt/loans.
            State of the art legal tender is not like gold.
            It’s being created by taking out a loan.
            To make the debt vanish, the credit has to vanish as well.
            Remember Yin & Yang? Matter & Antimatter.
            As long as you don’t understand that, you can not understand why we as a society have this problem.

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            I am trying my guts out to get on the same playing field to understand what you are saying, but credit is clearly NOT the same as cash. For you to bundle one in with the other, well let me tell you I’m getting less interested in this discussion.

          • nakedChimp 3 years ago

            I’m sorry, but that’s reality.

            Take out a loan with your bank and then go to the teller and let him hand over the cash.
            And then ask the bank on which side of their book they put down the amount you owe to it – It will be filed under credit.
            And if you bring money back to the bank they will reduce your debt and also their credit position towards you.

            The banks do the same with the central bank (fractional reserve banking).
            All that money that is out in the economy, circulating (or not) has been come into existence as debt.

            Credit/Debt is being created and settled all the time.

          • nakedChimp 3 years ago

            PS: if you overcome this refusal, please tell me why.
            I’m just a messenger really and doing my best to communicate to the best of my knowledge and always wish to find out my misunderstandings.

      • RobSa 3 years ago

        If we leave it to the markets you will only get a slight tinkering on the edges until its too late. Were is this fictitious market place for climate change mitigation?

        “The stakes involved in the debate over climate change do not come any higher. The largest industries of humankind, energy and transportation, are directly implicated.” – Mike Romoth

        “Industry and government are ignoring the glaring contradiction between the science of climate change and the policy of fossil fuel expansion.” – David Suzuki

        “The major issue is not whether global warming will cause climate and ecological disasters, but how quickly they will occur.” – H Patricia Hynes

        • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

          “Where is this fictitious market place for climate change mitigation?”

          It’s not fictitious at all – just read the last one thousand fucking articles on this very site, Green Booger!

          • RobSa 3 years ago

            Granted this website has covered developments in the marketplace which begin to address part of the issue. The World Resource Institute estimated electricity produced around one quarter of ghg emissions in 2010.

            The move towards sustainability and posterity requires many other levers to be pulled. Transport needs to be decarbonised as rapidly as possible. No viable solutions exist for fossil-fuel free air travel. Emissions from agriculture need reform. Deforestation is still widespread.

            My point is that its great to see diversity in our sources of energy but I agree with nakedChimp in that much wider reform is urgently required.

          • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

            (I deleted that nonsense above) I don’t disagree that those are problems, but there is too much antipathy and apathy towards climate action out there in the electorate. Although the good news is I don’t think that will be a problem in China.

        • Ren Stimpy 3 years ago

          Though through a certain program I am obliged to make amends with you, my good friend.

        • D. John Hunwick 3 years ago

          I sense that capitalism is more the cause of the problem, and without drastic change CANNOT do more than tinker around the edges fooling most people into thinking that the problem is being attended to – when it is NOT

          • Miles Harding 3 years ago

            There is a youtube movie, search for “Capitalism is the crisis”.

            Through this lens, much of the world’s behaviour is explained by capital protecting its interests (money!) and demonising everything and anything that stands in the way of profit and acqusition throuh any means…. very Macchiavellian.

            The Tea party is one of the best examples. It conflates socialism and communism in order to dupe those ignorant fools that support it into campaigning against basic social services they depend on.

            Labour unions are demonised because they campaign for workers rights and fair compensation for effort. The actual unionists I have met are concerned about fairness and justice and are certainly not at all as the [murdoch] media portrays them.

            Coal interests campain exactly the same way tobacco companies did (even the people are the same!!) in the face of mounting evidence of the harm they cause.

            In Australia, we have the advantage that these covert campaigns, such as ‘stop these things’ and the LNP policies generally (if, indeed they have any) are ineptly cocealed and obviously disingenuous.

    • D. John Hunwick 3 years ago

      But no one wants to change the economic system! Those who can are too busy profiting from how it works now! Is war, rather than logic, more likelty to bring about change?

      • nakedChimp 3 years ago

        Grassroot, as always.
        There are movements there that try to change local economic rules – always have been.

        If it is sexy enough and works better than the incumbents, it will succeed – if in time for the survival of our current society as we know it – no idea. It’s the best we got I guess, considering the circumstances, which you described perfectly.

    • Miles Harding 3 years ago

      Sadly, there is no sign that greed is on the decline!!

      However, many of us are choosing another path and are in the process of building resilient and sustainable communities in the suburbs.

      I have been impressed by the number of people I encounter that share the same vision. Admittedly, there is a self-selection process, but this got me to thinking what there are a lot more out there that have private concerns and haven’t taken the steps to become activists and join a visible network.

      One of our challenges is to get these isolated groups to join into community networks, something that simple street/garden parties can greatly encourage.

  4. RobSa 3 years ago

    Rather than take responsibility for their action polluters either live in denial or rely on excuses. How many motorists read this and will still burn petrol? How many travelers read this and still plan on jetting off overseas? Until those with huge carbon footprints acknowledge their wrong-doing their legacy of suffering, damage and harm will be exacerbated.

    • Chris Fraser 3 years ago

      It’s not perfect, but I offset emissions from my car. As I can buy clean energy. As to emissions from potable water being piped into the house, I still need to do something about that. For all other consumables, the carbon price was supposed to be a very good start, but that still didn’t cover everything.

  5. onesecond 3 years ago

    For context, here is a documentary about the Permian extinction, that should be a mandatory watch for everyone, especially politicians and fossil fuel guys:

    If we do nothing, we head for a 6 °C temperature rise until the end of this century.

    • Colin 3 years ago

      From what I’ve read a +6°C rise would mean the end of human life on earth.

      • onesecond 3 years ago

        Most probably, yes.

      • neroden 3 years ago

        Quite definitely. Life would go on. Humans wouldn’t have a chance.

        • nakedChimp 3 years ago

          I’d say a couple thousand would survive this here and there easily.. civilization as we know it at our technological level, probably not.
          But most of it will be destroyed by ourselves while we topple over each other fighting for survival – can’t blame nature for that.

    • humanitarian solar 3 years ago

      Thanks, very informative with grounded examples of historical natural processes throughout, drawing illuminating parallels with our present situation.

  6. humanitarian solar 3 years ago

    The reason I often describe research from the seemingly nebulous subject of “consciousness”, and it’s continuum, is when the extent of the continuum is acknowledged and realistically it’s concurrent rate of development at each strata, then there’s no option but stratagically kicking out the people at modest levels as they will continue to be saddled by explicitly short term personal concerns, fail to grasp the need to make any necessary sacrifices in lifestyle to redress the imbalance with the earth, and all forms of life attempting to survive alongside humanity. For those people confined to issues like national identity or the next level with it’s concerns for fostering unfettered universal markets, those levels remain ethnocentric and humancentric respectively. This is the real problem. The development of consciousness, and those at modest levels of development have unfortunately always needed crisis to change the locus of their concern – into a substantially expanded context.

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