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Greenhouse Gas Levels Surpass Troublesome Milestone

Greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) is continuing to increase at a steep rate in the Earth's atmosphere. The heat-trapping gas hit a troublesome milestone last year at its peak in May when it reached levels of 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide. But this year, two months earlier, those levels are already being seen.

Greenhouse gas is the main global warming pollutant caused by the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal for electricity and oil for gasoline.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography researcher Ralph Keeling is tracking daily CO2 measurements at Mauna Loa, Hawaii using the Keeling Curve founded by his late father, Charles David (Dave) Keeling, a world-leading authority on atmospheric greenhouse gas accumulation and Scripps climate science pioneer.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

A daily record of atmospheric carbon dioxide using from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego shows levels of CO2 have surpassed the 400 parts per million, March 17, 2014.

“We’re already seeing values over 400. Probably we’ll see values dwelling over 400 in April and May. It’s just a matter of time before it stays over 400 forever,” said Ralph Keeling in a blog post.

Measurements at Mauna Loa comprise the longest continuous record of CO2 in the world, starting from 316 ppm in March 1958.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography is providing a website,, to offer daily updates on CO2 levels and to provide background information about how CO2 is measured, the history of the Keeling Curve, and resources from other organizations on the current state of climate. An accompanying Twitter feed, @keeling_curve, also provides followers with the most recent Keeling Curve CO2 reading in a daily tweet.

Keeling tweeted a CO2 reading of 401.19 ppm on March 18, 401.34 ppm on March 17, 400.2 ppm on March 13 and 401.62 ppm on March 12.

Keeling recently told KPBS there is a time lag for the global temperature to catch up with the CO2 that humans have already added to the atmosphere, so temperatures will continue to rise for many years after the atmospheric CO2 amount is stabilized.

He said it’s increasingly doubtful warming temperatures can be limited to the 2-degree Celsius threshold to avoid climate change’s catastrophic effects, including rising sea levels, droughts, floods and heat waves.

"I think the opportunity to achieve that was more or less in the past decade and now it's probably not really realistic that we'll get there," said Keeling.

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Avatar for user 'SDforward'

SDforward | March 19, 2014 at 7:38 a.m. ― 2 years, 11 months ago

It still boggles my mind that human beings are choosing to live in a more hospitable and dangerous planet, especially a country like the U.S. that has already met its basic needs (to put it mildly) and can afford to shape the world we want to live in.

Wish we could divide the world so that those who choose not to believe in climate change or to do nothing about it could live in an environment created by that, and the rest of us could change our behavior and policies to protect the one world we know. Alas, we're all in it together ;-(

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Avatar for user 'xwagner'

xwagner | March 19, 2014 at 8:21 a.m. ― 2 years, 11 months ago

Is this one of those "man made" climate changes pitches that leads to a "carbon credit" economic bubble? Because that sounds like just another economic scam.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 19, 2014 at 10:41 a.m. ― 2 years, 11 months ago

Those in power in this country have already decided: money and profit is more important than the environment.

Greed is a powerful motivator here, I don't see that changing.

The rich probably think they will be able to buy climate-controlled dwellings when the earth's naturally occurring climate eventually becomes inhabitable for humans.

Hell, it's a win-win for right wing Republican denier millionaires/billionaires like the Kock Brothers - the poor and middle class will die off and the super-rich will have the planet to themselves, free to live in their climate-controlled bunkers.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 19, 2014 at 11:24 a.m. ― 2 years, 11 months ago

Guess who profited the most off of global warming/alternative/sustainable energy so far? All the global warming alarmists like Al Gore. People are so stupid...

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 19, 2014 at 1:25 p.m. ― 2 years, 11 months ago

How much did Al Gore "profit" from global warming?

Please provide a dollar amount and tell me how you determined that was more than the profiting done by corporations who make money off of preventing/rolling-back environmental regulations?

The Flat Earth Crazies love to make Al Gore their target.

All Mr. Gore did is collate and disseminate the information on what climate scientists have been finding.

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Avatar for user 'TPartyHero'

TPartyHero | March 24, 2014 at 2:05 p.m. ― 2 years, 11 months ago

More alarmism from the ecoterroists co2 is good for you

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