CO2 400 ppm and climbing

Written By: - Date published: 10:51 am, May 14th, 2013 - 45 comments
Categories: climate change, disaster, uncategorized - Tags: , ,

As widely discussed, we the people of the planet have passed a dangerous and depressing milestone:

Heat-Trapping Gas Passes Milestone, Raising Fears

The level of the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide, has passed a long-feared milestone, scientists reported Friday, reaching a concentration not seen on the earth for millions of years.

Scientific instruments showed that the gas had reached an average daily level above 400 parts per million — just an odometer moment in one sense, but also a sobering reminder that decades of efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control are faltering.

The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years, before humans evolved, and scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea.

“It symbolizes that so far we have failed miserably in tackling this problem,” said Pieter P. Tans, who runs the monitoring program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that reported the new reading.

Ralph Keeling, who runs another monitoring program at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, said a continuing rise could be catastrophic. “It means we are quickly losing the possibility of keeping the climate below what people thought were possibly tolerable thresholds,” he said. …

“It feels like the inevitable march toward disaster,” said Maureen E. Raymo, a scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a unit of Columbia University. …

Indirect measurements suggest that the last time the carbon dioxide level was this high was at least three million years ago, during an epoch called the Pliocene. Geological research shows that the climate then was far warmer than today, the world’s ice caps were smaller, and the sea level might have been as much as 60 or 80 feet higher. Experts fear that humanity may be precipitating a return to such conditions — except this time, billions of people are in harm’s way. …

This animation really gives a feel for the inexorably increase in levels over time.

Activists and scientists tired to draw a line in the sand at the safe level of CO2, see 350.org. They have set up a special page to mark the 400ppm milestone, calling for a “relentless rise in activism” to match the “relentless rise in carbon”. After Copenhagen I no longer think that’s going to happen. But if there is any hope at all it doesn’t rest with my greedy generation, it rests with the young, and the likes of Generation Zero.

45 comments on “CO2 400 ppm and climbing”

  1. Peter 1

    Actually, it rests within the hands of five nations with large coal reserves – primarily the United States, Germany, China, Australia, and Russia. A lot of their coal won’t leave the ground, but the stuff that does, needs to be capped and tapered off.

    Intriguingly, China has announced a coal production cap of 4 billion tonnes a year. This is presumably to eke out their reserves a bit longer, because China is starting to peak in terms of production volume and quality.

  2. Sosoo 3

    Do you have a feasible way of removing conservative saboteurs from the political process?

    No?

    Oh well, that’s the end of that then.

    • r0b 3.1

      There it is in a nutshell.

    • Sosoo 3.2

      If you wanted to do something about it, you would be persuading elites that have a lot to lose to cosy up to the military who will end up having to deal with the results of climate disasters, and persuading both of them to quietly put the frighteners on whichever bunch of buffoons is currently in charge.

      That would work.

    • Ennui 3.3

      Before we all get too depressed (and that is a very reasonable response) there is a site to which those of you who are feeling psychologically maimed by your fellow humans indifference to the threat can go for help. http://peakoilblues.com/

      Kathy McMahon is a clinical psychologist who can aid you with coming to terms with the unthinkable reality we face.

  3. Bill 4

    350ppm was no scientifically based ‘line in the sand’. 350 (as I understand it) merely coincided with the political and absoluely non-scientific fudge that claimed 2 degrees C average warming was to be considered safe.

    Genration Zero, Wise Response, 350…or as they are now calling themselves 400/350 are all in the game of petitioning governments to preserve the lifestyles and habits we have now, but to do it in a way that doesn’t involve carbon emissions. Now, that’s not going to happen and cannot happen because the economic model we use absolutely relies on fossil fuels. Take away the fossil fuels and the economy implodes. Take away the economy and those who currently enjoy the power that the economy serves up to them will disappear.

    And yet, organisations such as those above, think that petitioning those who would lose all of their power and privilege to be a good strategy. It’s not. It’s stupid. Where’s the bloody leverage? Where’s the point at which the consequences of inaction by those petitioned outweighs the consequences of action? It doesn’t exist. And that means these orgs are wasting a lot of time and energy pursuing and generating false hopes.

    • Peter 4.1

      I’m inclined to believe you there – you cannot sustain the unsustainable, but people will go on trying for a long time. The reality is, almost none of us know how to live without fossil fuels, and we won’t start trying in a hurry either.

  4. BM 5

    Lefties fucked the global warming/cooling thing when they tried to use climate change as a vehicle to install socialist policy.
    The public don’t know who to believe any more, they haven’t got a clue who’s telling the truth or who’s pushing what agenda.
    Poor old mother nature she must despair at having you asshats on her team.

    • muzza 5.1

      That’s your contribution then!

      Well done!

      • Paul 5.1.1

        Typical constructive comment.
        I hope his grandkids can witness his contribution.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.2

        That’s just more BS from BM who regards anything that limits rich people as socialist policy.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 5.2

      BM, it’s good to see you so fired up about the issue. What’s your preferred solution again, wormtongue?

      • BM 5.2.1

        We’ve done about all we can do.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead 5.2.1.1

          No, we haven’t. We haven’t witnessed mass starvation yet. Nor have we reached the point where survival becomes a more pressing issue than adaptation. You’ll find lots more you can do by then, I promise.

      • muzza 5.2.2

        Geo-engineering will make it all ok!

        Continue!

  5. ghostrider888 6

    “To go out of your mind at least once a day is tremendously important, because by going out of your mind you will come to your senses.”
    -Alan Watts.

  6. BM 7

    But if there is any hope at all it doesn’t rest with my greedy generation, it rests with the young, and the likes of Generation Zero.

    When I think back to how polluted NZ was 20-30 years ago, I think we’ve done pretty well.
    Cfc’s are gone, we have recycling, the vast majority of our car fleet is modern and low pollution.
    The farmers have improved their practices out of sight, no longer are gullies and water ways dumping grounds.

    Personally I think we’ve done pretty well, so you can take off your hair shirt now r0b and give the self flagellation a rest.

    • Pascal's bookie 7.1

      Thanks greenies!

      • BM 7.1.1

        Yep, they achieved quite a lot when they left the politics out.

        • Pascal's bookie 7.1.1.1

          That was all politics too BM.

          Perhaps you can point t the rightwingers who were saying we ought to ignore the greens with their politics and sort out global warming?

          Mainstream parties thanks, proposing policy that would be more effective than what green parties were proposing. Any where in the world you want.

          I’ll provide you with a mainstream right winger, (or 5) attacking the science of AGW with pure politics in return for every single one you come up with.

          • BM 7.1.1.1.1

            The way I look at it the Green party should be neutral.
            They should be able to work with both left and right.

            Currently they’ve sided with labour and are firmly in the socialist/communist camp which is a shame as they’re alienating 1/2 the voting population.
            If they dropped the zealotry and worked with who ever was the majority they might find their vote % up around 20-25% instead of hovering around the 10%.

            The greens would achieve so much more working with National as well as Labour, shame they can’t get past the ideologies.

            • fender 7.1.1.1.1.1

              So you demand the Greens go the way you want them to, wtf.

              Well I think National should change their ways and go left, but that won’t happen.

              The Greens are left and proud of it, and I doubt they will change for either you or G. Morgan.

              • BM

                I guess political power is more important than the environment.
                Bit of a shame that.

                No wonder they’re called the melons

                • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                  If reality ever got a look in the home insulation program might register with you. Oh look, The Greens working with the National Party.

                  We need better fuckwits.

                • fender

                  I guess political integrity is more important (to the Greens) than gaining power.

                  FIFY

            • emergency mike 7.1.1.1.1.2

              “The way I look at it the Green party should be neutral.”

              I’m sure the Greens appreciate your um, ‘concern’.

              “If they dropped the zealotry and worked with who ever was the majority…”

              You mean just be ‘flexible’ about the annoying principals thing and just team up with whoever is currently ‘winning’? Kind of like that go with the flow gravy train rider Peter Dunne? What about all the votes they would lose from the core Green supporters who would be turned off by teaming up with the party that rapes the environment for money every chance it gets?

              “The greens would achieve so much more working with National as well as Labour,”

              Yeah it’s worked out so well for the Maori Party.

              “shame they can’t get past the ideologies.”

              Mmm, if only the National party would abandon its neoliberal economic death spiral, do nothing about climate change, throw money at rich people and shit on everyone else policies. Maybe the Greens would show some luv.

              You might have hit on something though, a coalition partner for National. Start a Green party that righties could vote for. The GreenCon Party. They will tackle global warming by installing an air conditioner every 10m, and pay for it by cutting benefits to pot smoking dole bludgers and other criminal beneficiaries. And with tax cuts for the wealthy of course, to, you know, stimulate the economy.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.2

      …the vast majority of our car fleet is modern and low pollution.

      We have one of the oldest vehicle fleets in the world. That matters because older vehicles tend to be less efficient. Not that a car is ever going to be efficient – it’s a really good example of poor economics.

      Also, this.

      As for the recycling, well, compared to the best we’ve still got a long way to go.

      The farmers have improved their practices out of sight, no longer are gullies and water ways dumping grounds.

      And that would be why our streams, rivers, lakes and estuaries are getting steadily worse and dead zones are appearing at our river mouths.

      We have improved but not by as much as you seem to think. It’s still the case that we’re relatively unpolluted due to population density than that we’ve actually done anything to stop pollution.

  7. Draco T Bastard 8

    But if there is any hope at all it doesn’t rest with my greedy generation, it rests with the young, and the likes of Generation Zero.

    To have any hope we need to get the rich away from the control levers of our economy and to stop telling people that they can have everything that they desire. The first gets rid of the growth meme and the second sets the limits that will allow us to live sustainably. The rich don’t want that though because it means that they can’t keep getting richer.

    • BM 8.1

      Yes, yes, that’s what we need, a good purge and a few re education camps.

      • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1

        I see that you’re argument is up to your usual standard – completely non-existent.

  8. Jenny 9

    Activists and scientists tired to draw a line in the sand at the safe level of CO2, see 350.org. They have set up a special page to mark the 400ppm milestone, calling for a “relentless rise in activism” to match the “relentless rise in carbon”. After Copenhagen I no longer think that’s going to happen. But if there is any hope at all it doesn’t rest with my greedy generation, it rests with the young, and the likes of Generation Zero.

    ANTHONY ROBINS

    Come on Anthony you can do better than this.

    The Green Party are facing up to the problem. They have called an all party conference on climate change in parliament for June 7 and invited all activists and political parties to take part.

    http://meetingthechallenge.eventbrite.co.nz/#

    Kennedy Graham, Green Party spokesperson for climate change, will host a one-day conference in Parliament on Friday 7th June with the aim of fostering cross-party and public dialogue on climate change.
    This threat is now urgent and we need to be working together to find common ground as well as debating our differences.

    Why is this conference important?

    Because it is the first attempt to get a cross party unity on climate change.

    Surely this is something you could support?

    Will Labour Party people like yourself turn up?

    Will the Labour Party leadership show up?

    If it is to be a genuine cross party discussion they must.

    Or will the Green Party be stood up, in a deliberate snub?

    Will this be a signal of how it will be in government?

    The Green Party and the Labour Party worked together over the inquiry into the crisis in manufacturing, Why can’t they do so, over climate change?

    Is this conference important?

    It is as important as people like you, Anthony make it.

    With out you or your party’s support it will undoubtably be a flop.

    But it could be very important. That is, if the Labour Party activists like yourself took this conference seriously. As looks likely, a Labour/Green coalition government will be governing this country after 2014. If both Labour the Greens and some of the smaller support parties can make some genuine efforts to find some common ground on climate change at this conference, then decisions made at this conference could well end up as government policy.

    A Labour no show spells death for any strategy by the incoming government to do anything serious about climate change.

    So what could you do Anthony?

    Well apart from turning up yourself and urging everyone you know to also turn up

    You could do all you could using your position here at The Standard to advertise and promote the Cross Party Conference on Climate Change. You could be demanding that your political leaders in the Labour Party have an official presence.

    Will you do it?

    Or will you just moan and groan that no one is doing anything?

    And leave it up to the next generation of young people?

    If the Labour Party have no official presence at this cross party conference then this will be very significant political act. Signaling that a Labour/Green coalition government, (if it ever occurs) will be one on Labour’s terms set on continuing with climate change, including the expansion of coal mining and deep sea oil drilling.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      Forget about climate change conversations, it’s irrelevant. Proposals to reducing population and economic activity is the only way ahead if you are serious about this issue.

      • Jenny 9.1.1

        In that case CV. I am sure you and your party will be turning up to the June 7 parliamentary Conference on Climate Change to put forward some “Proposals” on how Labour intend to go about it.

        Or is this just another excuse for doing nothing?

  9. Colonial Viper 10

    Focussing on CO2 PPM is basically symptom chasing.

    Reducing the amount of energy used per capita, and then reducing world population is the only way for humanity to escape.

    Quite simply we need fewer people and for those people to have access to less energy day to day.

    By the way a smaller population consuming less energy means collapse of most current economic arrangements. Life can still be good, but in a qualitative way, not a quantitative way.

    That’s it.

    • BM 10.1

      Yes I’m with you, compulsory contraception for all poor people.
      Glad we agree on something.

      • Colonial Viper 10.1.1

        Better solution is to have no poor people.

        • BM 10.1.1.1

          You’ll always have poor uneducated people, I don’t think there’s ever been a point in human history where there wasn’t. they’re the ones that breed the most and produces the least so they’re the first group that needs to be controlled.

          With the advances of medical science(which is only going to improve), I’m guessing the average life span of humans will increase to at least 100 years within the next 20-30 years.
          You can’t just allow people to keep breeding at the current rate, In a perfect situation all people would be placed on a form of contraception and would have to prove that there genetic stock is of value to the country before they’re allowed to breed.

          • Draco T Bastard 10.1.1.1.1

            Wow, an outright call for eugenics from a RWNJ.

          • Colonial Viper 10.1.1.1.2

            I’m guessing the average life span of humans will increase to at least 100 years within the next 20-30 years.

            Nope. Economic decline will see a repeat of the FUSSR experience, to a greater or lesser extent.

  10. johnm 11

    “400 PPM: We’ve Never Been Here Before ”
    “Welcome to the Pliocene!

    The last time the atmosphere had 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide was most likely between 3 and 5 million years ago, long before humans like us inhabited the earth. It was a geological epoch known as the Pliocene. The planet was many degrees warmer and scientists estimate sea level was about 80 feet higher.”

    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/05/14-4

    And a moving comment:

    “How cool that you can read Earth’s climatic history based on what these trapped air bubbles in ice can tell you about past atmospheric conditions. This part of science is awesome. It reminds me of that chapter in Aldo Leopold’s “Sand County Almanac” where he deciphers periods of excessive rain and drought based on what the tree rings of an old oak struck down by lightening tell him. I love how you sciencists have learned to read the “language” of this planet’s history through its fossilized flora and fauna. As someone unversed in that skill, and only an enthusiastic “citizen naturalist”, I’m in awe of your tremendous ability.

    That said, now to the bad news. You aren’t the only one crying over what’s happening to this extraordinary planet. I say that as one commiserating with you, not as an arrogant ass. Many of us don’t need to be professional scientists who understand complex formulas and how to interpret them to understand that H. sapiens fucked up irrevocably over the last two hundred years. Some of us do get it; and we get it way down inside that part of our guts that understands this isn’t going to end well. AT ALL. In fact, there’s no need to wait until the “end”; it’s a fatal mess now. And if you think there’s any chance of life on Earth improving over the next several decades, think again. With a forecast of 9 billion “human beings” crawling all over this planet by 2050, and a fossil fuel industry intent on destroying everything but its chances for more profit, one doesn’t need to be a psychic to predict you can kiss the extraordinary biodiversity that remains, along with the diminishing wild lands and wild species left, goodbye. It’s one hell of a time to be bearing witness to life on Earth if you’re one who cares about ALL life on Earth; not just that of human beings only.

    Thank you for the work you do. And in an honest and sorrowful tone, I bid condolences to you for being part of a team that discovered what a fucking mess our species made of this once beautiful planet.”

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      The Earth is going to be just fine; the miracle will be if recognisable human civilisation survives the next 200 years.

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