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400 PPM: Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere Reaches Prehistoric Levels
Scientific American ^ | May 9, 2013 | David Biello

Posted on 03/19/2014 6:15:30 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o

400 PPM: What’s Next for a Warming Planet Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached this level for the first time in millions of years. What does this portend? »

On May 2, after nightfall shut down photosynthesis for the day in Hawaii, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere touched 400 parts-per-million there for the first time in at least 800,000 years. Near the summit of volcanic Mauna Loa—where a member of the Keeling family has kept watch since 1958—sensors measured this record through sunrise the following day. Levels have continued to dance near that benchmark in recent days, registering above 400 ppm for the first time in eons after midnight on May 7. When the measurements started the daily average could be as low as 315 ppm, already up from a pre-industrial average of around 280 ppm.

This measurement is just the hourly average of CO2 levels high in the Hawaiian sky, but this family’s figures carry more weight than those made at other stations in the world as they have faithfully kept the longest record of atmospheric CO2. Arctic weather stations also hit the hourly 400 ppm mark last spring and this one. Regardless, the hourly levels at Mauna Loa will soon drop as spring kicks in across the northern hemisphere, trees budding forth an army of leaves hungrily sucking CO2 out of the sky. 5-2-5-7-2013-mauna-loa

Courtesy of Scripps Institution of Oceanography

It may be next year before the monthly average level reaches 400 ppm—and yet longer still until the annual average reaches that number.

But there is no question that the world continues to inexorably climb toward higher levels of greenhouse gas concentrations. Barring economic recessions, the world may be lucky to stop at 450, 500 or even beyond. Last year, humanity spewed some 36 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases, up from 35 billion the year before.

In the coming year, Scientific American will run an occasional series, “400 ppm,” to examine what this invisible line in the sky means for the global climate, the planet and all the living things on it, including human civilization. Some scientists argue we passed the safe level for greenhouse gas concentrations long ago, pointing to the accelerating impacts, from extreme weather to the meltdown of Arctic sea ice. Others argue that we have yet more room to burn fossil fuels, clear forests and the like—but not much—before catastrophic climate change becomes inescapable. And the international community of nations has agreed that 450 ppm—linked to a rise of 2 degrees Celsius in global average temperatures—should not be exceeded. We are not on track to avoid that limit, whether you prefer the economic analysis of experts like the International Energy Agency or the steady monitoring of mechanical sensors.

The last time CO2 levels at Mauna Loa were this high, Homo sapiens did not live there. In fact, the last time CO2 levels are thought to have been this high was more than 2.5 million years ago, an era known as the Pliocene, when the Canadian Arctic boasted forests instead of icy wastes. The land bridge connecting North America and South America had recently formed. The globe’s temperature averaged about 3 degrees C warmer, and sea level lapped coasts 5 meters or more higher. co2-levels-over-800000-years

Courtesy of Scripps Institution of Oceanography

The world will change again due to human activity and associated emissions of CO2, perhaps causing another set of coral reef extinctions like those found during the Pliocene, among other impacts. When Charles D. Keeling first started his measurements, CO2 made up some 317 ppm of the air we breathe and climate change was already a concern thanks to the work of John Tyndall, Svante Arrhenius and Guy Callendar. Every year since 1958 the sawtoothed line depicting Keeling’s measurements—readings kept up by his son Ralph—has climbed up, capturing the rise in greenhouse gas concentrations as well as the world’s breath. keeling-curve

Courtesy of Scripps Institution of Oceanography

What can be done? In the short term, more potent but shorter-lasting greenhouse gas emissions could be curbed or a concerted effort to develop CO2 capture and storage technology could be undertaken. Whether we do that or not, given CO2′s long lifetime in the atmosphere, the world will continue to warm to some extent; at least as much as the 0.8 degree C of warming to date is likely thanks to the CO2 already in the atmosphere.

At present pace, the world could reach 450 ppm in a few short decades. The record notches up another 2 ppm per year at present pace. Human civilization developed and flourished in a geologic era that never saw CO2 concentrations above 300 ppm. We are in novel territory again and we show no signs of slowing to get our bearings, let alone stopping.


TOPICS: Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; US: Hawaii
KEYWORDS: climatechange; globalwarming; globalwarminghoax; pliocene
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This year-old article isn't exactly news (although in geologic time it happened 'bout 1 second ago) -- but I just wanted to gauge FReeper's reactions to my own proposal, that I'd like to bump up average global surface temps by 2o and try to get the CO2 to about 1500 ppm, so we can open up all that prime agricultural land in northern Canada and Eurasia, feed about 7 billion more people, and have valuable tropical beachfront property in Newfoundland and Labrador.

What say ye?

1 posted on 03/19/2014 6:15:30 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Wonder how much a prehistoric SUV would sell for if I could dig one up.


2 posted on 03/19/2014 6:17:43 AM PDT by Crazieman (Are you naive enough to think VOTING will fix this entrenched system?)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Would that be Ice Age prehistoric levels?


3 posted on 03/19/2014 6:18:08 AM PDT by Amagi (Lenin: "Socialized Medicine is the Keystone to the Arch of the Socialist State.")
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To: Amagi

Sure, get a sample from the top of a volcano.


4 posted on 03/19/2014 6:20:03 AM PDT by massgopguy (I owe everything to George Bailey)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

I vote yes, this should give the “population control” crowd the vapors.


5 posted on 03/19/2014 6:20:16 AM PDT by Rumplemeyer (The GOP should stand its ground - and fix Bayonets)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Lot of heavy breathing going on back in the day? (800,000 years ago) Or, was it the CO2 being emitted from those scary SUV’s?


6 posted on 03/19/2014 6:21:56 AM PDT by Road Warrior 04 (Molon Labe! (Oathkeeper))
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Well I say that they should have tossed the reading for the simple reason that the volcano is active.


7 posted on 03/19/2014 6:22:02 AM PDT by Cold Heat (Have you reached your breaking point yet? If not now....then when?)
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To: Mrs. Don-o
Q. What is the largest natural source of carbon dioxide?

A. Volcanoes

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Q. What is Mauna Loa?

A. A Volcano...

8 posted on 03/19/2014 6:22:51 AM PDT by TXnMA (Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad! REPEAT San Jacinto!!!)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

9 posted on 03/19/2014 6:25:29 AM PDT by Sgt_Schultze (A half-truth is a complete lie)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

So, having a sensor at the top of an active volcano is a good idea..............................


10 posted on 03/19/2014 6:26:52 AM PDT by Red Badger (LIberal is an oxymoron......................)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Better that than another glacier build up here in Wisconsin! :)


11 posted on 03/19/2014 6:27:25 AM PDT by MRadtke (Light a candle or curse the darkness?)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

A nice diversion and worthy of consideration. However, my first proposal is the urge the ‘Keeling’ family to take their highly accurate and scientific CO2 readings somewhere other than on the precipice of an active volcano.


12 posted on 03/19/2014 6:28:01 AM PDT by Gaffer (Comprehensive Immigration Reform is just another name for Comprehensive Capitulation)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

This article mixes the (fraud) concepts of AGC and AGW. This seems to be a trend. Global “change” is a more flexible con, but doesn’t sell to the public like global “warming”.


13 posted on 03/19/2014 6:28:51 AM PDT by jdsteel (Give me freedom, not more government.)
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To: Red Badger

This is just the NOAA way of doing things....place your dispersed geographical temperature sensors near the exhausts of building heating systems etc.....

To believe these amateurs’ loggings requires suspension of all disbelief in reality.


14 posted on 03/19/2014 6:30:12 AM PDT by Gaffer (Comprehensive Immigration Reform is just another name for Comprehensive Capitulation)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

15 posted on 03/19/2014 6:30:21 AM PDT by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

My rough interpretation of the data shown in the figures-
1. Daily CO2 conc from the 2nd to the 7th is fairly constant, on the 8th where it hits 400, the data is clearly an an artifact perhaps caused by an instrument malfunction or burp from the volcano. Check your instruments.

2. The long term data is clearly cyclical and the data from 1958 is a short term sample whereas the core data is averaged over hundreds or even thousands of years. You cannot compare the two.

3. The observatory data shows a constant rate of increase over 50 years. Since the amount of CO2 generated over those 50 years has not been increasing dramatically during that time, the rate of increase should be greater now than in the past. It is not.


16 posted on 03/19/2014 6:33:31 AM PDT by Brooklyn Attitude (Things are only going to get worse.)
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To: Moonman62
The point of that graph being that temperature change leads the CO2 change.
17 posted on 03/19/2014 6:34:16 AM PDT by Mycroft Holmes (<= Mash name for HTML Xampp PHP C JavaScript primer. Programming for everyone.)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Imagine a stadium with 100,000 seats. Now imagine 40 seats are left empty while the rest have someone in them to give you an idea of how little 400 ppm is.


18 posted on 03/19/2014 6:35:44 AM PDT by MNDude
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To: Brooklyn Attitude

Correction to my previous post. The 2nd comment should read “HAS been increasing dramatically”.

Apologies


19 posted on 03/19/2014 6:36:27 AM PDT by Brooklyn Attitude (Things are only going to get worse.)
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To: Amagi
Mid-Pliocene. The global average temperature (about 3 million years ago) was 2–3 °C higher than today, global sea level 25 m higher and the Northern hemisphere ice sheet was come-and-go --- this was before the glaciation that occurred in the late Pliocene over Greenland.

Nobody ever asks the climate alarmists, "OK, so what is the IDEAL CO2 level and earth surface temperature?" As a gardener, my preferences are clear: more and more.

I'm glad my compost pile generates robust amounts of heat and CO2. If everybody had a compost pile, maybe I'd reach my target climate: the pretty, pleasant, practical Pliocene.

20 posted on 03/19/2014 6:36:28 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (Point of view.)
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