How are we doing on CO2?

good piece at WAPO with excellent presentation and explanation from Peter Tans.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising at the fastest rate ever recorded

“For the second year in a row, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have climbed at a record pace. According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, carbon dioxide levels jumped by three parts per million in both 2015 and 2016 and now rest at about 405 parts per million

… the new NOAA measurements further indicate that carbon dioxide levels are only continuing to grow — and they’re rising at breakneck speed.

It may be a little confusing to consider this news alongside other recent reports, which suggest that global carbon emissions caused by human activity have actually remained fairly flat for the past three years. The fact is, even if emissions have remained pretty stable in recent years, humans are still pouring billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the air each year.

And even if these emission levels really are starting to plateau — and it will be years before we can say whether that’s actually the case, or whether the recent flattening is just a blip on an otherwise upward trend — they’re still evening out at an all-time high, after decades of climbing. Additionally, carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for a long time, Tans noted. This means that new carbon dioxide emissions have a cumulative effect, adding to emissions that were already there.

“So record-high CO2 emissions, even though they stay flat, translates directly into a record-high CO2 increase” in the atmosphere, he said.

Because carbon dioxide hangs around for so long, we’ll be feeling the warming effects of this year’s jump in concentration years in the future — even if we stopped all our greenhouse gas emissions today. And Tans added that it’s not only atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide that we have to worry about, but also oceanic levels as well.”

Don’t worry, be happy!