• Carbon dioxide levels in atmosphere above 410 ppm for a month

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

The debate over the best course of action to mitigate climate change comes at the same time as the news that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere has reached its highest level since atmospheric measurements began, at an average of 410 ppm throughout the month of April. The level marks an increase of 30% in CO2 concentrations since the first measurement of 315 ppm in 1958 at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, and it is believed that Earth has never experienced such a rapid rise in concentrations of the gas. While the Independent article on the rise sites the current level as the highest in 800,000 years, it also states that the last time levels were above 400 ppm was 3-5 million years ago, during the mid-Pliocene era, and although both statements may not be logically contradictory, there is a confusion in making them both. As a graph from the US National Academy of Sciences shows, CO2 levels have been nowhere near the present level for the last 800,000 years, cycling instead between about 180 and 280 ppm.