The Met Office has forecast that during 2021, atmospheric carbon dioxide will reach levels 50% higher than before the industrial revolution.
Although the Covid-19 pandemic meant that 7% less carbon dioxide was emitted worldwide in 2020 than in previous years, the ongoing build-up in the atmosphere has still continued. Carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for a very long time, each year’s emissions adding to those of previous years and causing the proportional amount in the atmosphere to keep rising. The lockdowns of 2020 will only have delayed the process by a very little.
The forecast is that CO2 levels will exceed 417 parts per million for several weeks from April to June this year, exactly 50% more than the estimated 278 parts per million of the late 18th Century, when the Industrial Revolution began. The process is accelerating at a frightening speed: it took over 200 years for CO2 levels to increase by 25% but now, just over 30 years later, we are approaching this 50% increase milestone.
Fossil fuel burning and deforestation are believed to be the main drivers of our rising carbon dioxide levels, which are, in turn, driving rising sea levels and dangerous climate changes. We must reduce our use of fossil fuels; we must protect what little of the planet’s forest remains and plant new forests.
Stay safe in these worrying times.
Header picture by DKG
Graph: screenshot from the Two Degrees Institute