Environment

UN greenhouse gas report paints 2018 as multi-record-breaking year

UN greenhouse gas report paint...
A new report from the WMO says that atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations are at record highs – and still increasing
A new report from the WMO says that atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations are at record highs – and still increasing
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A new report from the WMO says that atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations are at record highs – and still increasing
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A new report from the WMO says that atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations are at record highs – and still increasing

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has released a new report, the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, and as you might expect the news isn’t great. In 2018, the globally-averaged concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere was 407.8 parts per million (ppm), a new record high that hasn’t been seen in millions of years. The report concludes that the window of opportunity to mitigate the effects of climate change is closing fast.

For this new report, the WMO collected data from 53 countries, and crunched it to get an average carbon reading for the whole planet, over the whole year. In 2018, that global average was 407.8 ppm, which is almost 50 percent higher than the pre-industrial level of 280 ppm.

“It is worth recalling that the last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3 to 5 million years ago,” says Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of WMO. “Back then, the temperature was 2° to 3° C (3.6° to 5.4° F) warmer, sea level was 10 to 20 m (33 to 66 ft) higher than now.”

The 2018 reading also represents a decent step up from the previous year – 2017 recorded a global average of 405.5 ppm. The Bulletin says that the increase from 2017 to 2018 was about the same as that from 2016 to 2017, and was just above average for the last decade.

Unfortunately this growth rate is accelerating over the long term. The report averaged the CO2 growth rate for the past three decades and found a steady increase. Between 1985 and 1995, the average increase was 1.42 ppm per year. Between 1995 and 2005, the increase was up to 1.86 ppm per year, and in 2005 to 2015, CO2 levels were increasing by 2.06 ppm per year. Clearly, this means we haven’t even begun to effectively address the problem.

“There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, in greenhouse gases concentration in the atmosphere despite all the commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,” says Taalas. “We need to translate the commitments into action and increase the level of ambition for the sake of the future welfare of mankind.”

Sadly, it seems we’re full steam ahead to hit further milestones. The threshold of 400 ppm was first crossed as a global average concentration in 2015, and early data suggests that 2019 could be the year this figure crosses 410 ppm. Already, weather stations have reported individual readings of over 415 ppm.

Carbon dioxide isn’t alone up there, either. The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin also shows that emissions of both methane and nitrous oxide are on the rise, too. In 2018, methane reached a new record of 1,869 parts per billion (ppb) – more than 2.5 times higher than pre-industrial levels. The increase from 2017 to 2018 was higher than that of 2016 to 2017, as well as being above average for the decade.

It’s a similar story for nitrous oxide. This ozone-depleting gas hit new highs of 331.1 ppb in 2018, again with a larger increase than the previous year and the decade average.

The report will likely give scientists and policymakers a lot to chew on at the UN Climate Change Conference, set to be held from December 2 to 15.

The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin can be found online at WMO.

Source: WMO

14 comments
Paul Muad'Dib
Climate change is the direct result of greed, from the giant corporations all the way down to the individual human.
guzmanchinky
Scary stuff, but I feel like we are n the cusp of world changing technologies to mitigate this climb, including meatless meat, artificial leaves, dramatic increases in solar efficiency, thorium reactors (and fusion further out) as well as quick charging electric batteries and ever more acceptance of the need to curtail emissions. I think it will be a slow road (too slow?) but we will engineer our way out of this mess just as surely as we engineered our way into it...
Douglas Rogers
These gasses only work by varying the amount of water vapor. The water band is not saturated over the deserts. Small variations in desert humidity will wipe out large variations in CO2/methane.
Catweazle
Paul Muad'Dib, 12,000 years ago the place where I sit and type was covered by around a kilometre of ice, then the climate changed and it melted. Please explain how greedy giant corporations caused that epochal event. Further, in some time in the future those glaciers will return. Basically, mankind is no more capable of *significantly* altering the climate than *significantly* altering the time the Sun rises and sets. And you can take that to the bank. And for what it's worth, if NASA's predictions concerning Solar Cycle 25 are correct, you and all your AGW True Believers are in for a rude awakening, quite soon now. Enjoy!
Wavmakr
I totally agree with Catweazle! Besides, who was there millions of years ago to gather data for comparison to now? Just saying.
christopher
More alarmist fud. Land itself rises and falls more than the sea does, so the entire argument is a total waste of breath in the first place (fun fact - there's more non-under-water land now than 30 years ago - yes - *fact*.) All climate articles should be accompanied by a scale, so people can see how much difference is being complained about, and most importantly, how much difference all our best efforts could realistically make to change that. If they rounded this to 6 decimal places, you could simply put 0.00000% at the end of every article.
sonic
Catweazle I don’t know where you’ve been but the oil and even coal companies knew as far back as 1966 ( https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2019/11/coal-knew-too/ ) that fossel fuels were changing our atmosphere and what could happen. I figure you’re hired by them to spout you’re distortion. When I challenge people like you to show us some real evidence from real scientists that are not paid by the oil companies I never hear from them again. Real climate scientists like at NASA agree that we are causing Climate change and the longer we wait to fix it thmore expensive it will be.
RFM
@ P Muad'Dib & Catweasle "Before the industrial revolution, the CO2 content in the air remained quite steady for thousands of years. Natural CO2 is not static, however. It is generated by natural processes, and absorbed by others."... "...what happens when more CO2 is released from outside of the natural carbon cycle – by burning fossil fuels. Although our output of 29 gigatons of CO2 is tiny compared to the 750 gigatons moving through the carbon cycle each year, it adds up because the land and ocean cannot absorb all of the extra CO2. About 40% of this additional CO2 is absorbed. The rest remains in the atmosphere, and as a consequence, atmospheric CO2 is at its highest level in 15 to 20 million years (Tripati 2009). (A natural change of 100 ppm normally takes 5,000 to 20,000 years. The recent increase of 100 ppm has taken just 120 years)." Humans impact climate with production of CO2 because the additional CO2 cannot be balanced in the natural system.
Altairtech
I agree with catweazle here. It is widely known by real climate scientists that the sun is the main driver of climate changes. What I find more worrying is that this "study" has again been mandated by the UN, which as we all know, has been the main driver of forced societal changes for the last 10 years, with the disastrous results we all have to endure on a daily basis. I would wipe this report off my desk with the back of my hand, exactly like the UN does with reports from real climate scientists.
bwana4swahili
“It is worth recalling that the last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3 to 5 million years ago,” says Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of WMO. “Back then, the temperature was 2° to 3° C (3.6° to 5.4° F) warmer, sea level was 10 to 20 m (33 to 66 ft) higher than now.” And this is a bad thing!? Some of the most prolific periods for plant growth in Earth's history have had considerably higher CO2 levels and life thrived! Adapt or die has always been nature's rule...