The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is still rising, despite a decrease in the number of times people drove and flew during the COVID-19 pandemic,media The Verge reported. Carbon dioxide reached its all-time high on May 3rd, the highest level in more than 60 years. The annual average is also expected to rise, according to an analysis published Thursday by scientists at the National Weather Service and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. They found that the total amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was still steadily climbing, and that the dramatic changes in the pandemic had hardly slowed it down.
These data suggest that more needs to be done to stop our planet warming up. As people are isolated from their homes during the pandemic, greenhouse gas emissions have temporarily declined, but not enough to eliminate the damage caused by decades of burning fossil fuels.
“The emissions from human activities are piling up in the atmosphere, and it’s not going to go away,” said Ralph Keeling, a geochemist at Scripps. “The build-up of carbon dioxide is not only a reflection of the emissions we are emitting today, but also in response to the emissions we have discharged over the past century. “
During a pandemic, one might feel as if the whole world had stopped, as businesses were ordered to close and refuge during the pandemic. The effect on earth’s heatpollution is already six times greater than the impact of the 2008 Great Recession on carbon emissions. But according to the International Energy Agency, the total global greenhouse gas emissions caused by the COVID-19 crisis have fallen by only about 8% this year.
“8% is not scary in a grand plan,” said Sean Sublette, a meteorologist at the nonprofit Climate Center. Its impact on climate change mitigation is negligible. Sublette said: “It’s like a bathtub, when you turn the tap on and last for a while, you turn it off 10 percent, but you’re still filling it with water.” You didn’t really stop pouring water into the bathtub, you just slowed down a little bit. “
May is a critical time to focus on carbon dioxide levels, which typically peak in the atmosphere. The concentration of carbon dioxide fluctuates slightly from year to year. In the summer, plants in the northern hemisphere — places with a larger land area — are “doing their best” to absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. In autumn and winter, their activity is less active, and when their leaves fall and break down, they release carbon dioxide. This cycle eventually led to a surge in atmospheric carbon dioxide in May, as spring plants went from leafless to dense plants, and as summer approaches, carbon dioxide concentrations drop.
Since records began in 1958 at hawaii’s Zunaroa Observatory, annual co2 concentrations have peaked at this time. From 318 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in May 1958 to a record high of 418.12 ppm this month. This upward trend, known as the Keeling Curve, is named after Charles David Keeling, the scientist who began the measurement.
To flatten the curve, emissions need to be permanently reduced by at least 50 per cent, says Ralph, David Keeling’s son. This may require a combination of behavioral changes and structural changes. “The changes are too great to be expected to happen just because of individual choices, ” he said.
Ultimately, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, greenhouse gas emissions will need to be virtually zero by 2050 to avoid the worst-case scenario of climate change.