Levels of atmospheric carbon have surged in 2013 causing new record highs. Concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere between 2012 and 2013 grew at their fastest rate since 1984.
According to the WMO’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin the globally averaged amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 396 parts per million (ppm) in 2013, an increase of almost 3ppm over the previous year. This is the fastest rate of carbon increase in nearly 30 years. Atmospheric CO2 is now at 142% of the levels in 1750, before the start of the industrial revolution.
Much of the increased heat generated by higher levels of CO2 is being absorbed by the oceans. This in turn causes a number of adverse effects from coral bleaching to ocean acidification. Each day the oceans take up about 4kg of CO2 per person. The WMO report indicates that the current rate of acidification is unprecedented over the last 300 million years.
Not only is humanity releasing more carbon, the report finds that the Earth’s biosphere appears to be absorbing less of that CO2. The bulletin suggests that in 2013, the increase in CO2 was due not only to increased emissions but also to a reduced carbon uptake by the Earth’s biosphere.
The WMO data shows that between 1990 and 2013 there was a 34 percent increase in the warming impact of GHGs.
We must significantly curtail GHGs if we are to keep temperatures below the internationally agreed upon upper threshold limit of 2C. The problem is that thus far there has been insufficient political will to make those change.
What we need is a global climate treaty before we run out of time. It is hoped that one will be signed by 2015.