Greenhouse Gas Levels In The Atmosphere Are Higher Than Previously Thought

Somber news was shared this week as the atmospheric observatory located in Mauna Loa, Hawaii, registered a grim record. The levels of greenhouse gas found in the atmosphere have continued to climb for seven years in a row, and they reached an average of 414.7 parts per million in May 2019.

This is the highest monthly average to be measured in 61 years of activity. The CO2 levels breached the 400ppm limit five years ago. These numbers are quite alarming, but the truth is that the concentration of greenhouse gases found in our atmosphere is considerably higher if we take into account the presence of other greenhouse gases.

In this case, the level jumps beyond 500ppm of gases which are deemed to be carbon dioxide equivalents, a milestone which was recorded in July 2018 at the Cape Grim Baseline Atmospheric Pollution Station, where the purest air in the world is measured.

Greenhouse Gas Levels In The Atmosphere Are Higher Than Previously Thought

Since the atmosphere of the Southern Hemisphere tends to be less polluted in comparison to the one found in the north, this means that the global average atmospheric concentration should have surpassed this level a while ago.

Carbon dioxide is known to be the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, but it is not alone. Other gases, among each we can count methane, nitrous oxide and synthetic greenhouse gases also can retain heat. Many of them are better at storing heat in comparison to carbon dioxide, and some can remain in the atmosphere for a longer period.

Carbon dioxide equivalents are used as an umbrella term to aggregate the combined effect of the other greenhouse gases. The Paris climate agreement seeks to limit global warming, but the implementation of the measures is quite complicated. Small steps were already taken, but more has to be done to make a positive impact in the long run.

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Emmy Skylar

About the Author: Emmy Skylar

Emmy Skylar started working for Debate Report in 2017. Emmy grew up in a small town in northern Manitoba. But moved to Ontario for university. Before joining Debate Report, Emmy briefly worked as a freelance journalist for CBC News.  She covers politics and the economy.

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