In 2014, for the 30th year in a row, Co2 levels reached a record high, according to the World Meteorological Organization. If true, this suggests a hard-to-deny trend of global warming.
The WMO warns that time could be running to limit the rising Co2 levels and keep temperatures at manageable levels. Leaders at the WMO now believe that the planet is fast approaching a point of no return, that once crossed will make it difficult to mitigate the effects of global warming.
The main factors that cause global warming, according to the WMO, are the burning of fossil fuels, agriculture, cement production, and deforestation. All of these processes result in more Co2 accumulating in the atmosphere.
Since scientists began tracking Co2 levels in 1984, each new year has brought higher levels than the previous year. Now, Co2 levels have neared the 400 parts-per-million (ppm) level in the northern atmosphere, and in fact broke that level at a few times in 2014. On average, Co2 levels reached 397.7 ppm. Scientists are now warning that Co2 levels could be permanently stuck about 400 ppm.
Carbon dioxide isn’t the only factor contributing to global warming. Increased water vapor in the atmosphere, rising acidity in the ocean, and other greenhouse gases, like methane, are also causing the Earth’s temperatures to rise.
In fact, in 2014 methane rose at the fastest level in a decade, reaching 1,833 parts per billion (ppb). While methane levels are not as high as carbon dioxide, methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas.
Nitrous oxide also reached 327.1 ppb, also rising at the fastest rate in a decade.
World leaders are meeting in Paris this month with the aim of limiting emissions. Critics have already charged, however, that the proposed plans won’t do enough, however, to limit global warming.
In 2010 world leaders announced a plan to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels. The more temperatures rise, the worse the effects will be on the world.
Changing weather patterns, melting ice, droughts, which will result in rising sea levels, and adverse effects on already fragile ecosystems, are among some of the problems most numerously cited.