by Christopher Freeburn | November 20, 2012 10:27 am
Greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere reached the highest levels ever recorded last year.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said the volume of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit 390.9 parts per million. Consumption of fossil fuels has dumped about 375 billion metric tons of the gas into the atmosphere since 1750, Reuters noted.
Current carbon dioxide levels are 40% higher than they were prior to the advent of the Industrial Age, more than two centuries ago. Once in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide lingers, trapping heat and raising world temperatures. It also increases the acidity of the oceans, which hurts coral reefs.
In addition to record carbon dioxide levels, methane is increasing again in the atmosphere, as are levels of nitrous oxide, which has a much greater impact of global warming compared to carbon dioxide.
The WMO estimates that the combination of the three greenhouse gases has increased global warming’s impact by 30% over the past two decades.
Earlier this week, the World Bank issued a report warning of potentially devastating economic repercussions from rising global temperatures during the rest of the century.
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