Scientists call for action to tackle CO2 levels

 
Coal power station and wind turbines The last time CO2 was regularly above 400ppm was three to five million years ago

Related Stories

Scientists are calling on world leaders to take action on climate change after carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere broke through a symbolic threshold.

Daily CO2 readings at a US government agency lab on Hawaii have topped 400 parts per million for the first time.

Sir Brian Hoskins, the head of climate change at the UK-based Royal Society, said the figure should "jolt governments into action".

China and the US have made a commitment to co-operate on clean technology.

But BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin said the EU was backing off the issue, and cheap fossil fuels looked attractive to industries.

The laboratory, which sits on the Mauna Loa volcano, feeds its numbers into a continuous record of the concentration of the gas stretching back to 1958.

'Sense of urgency'

Carbon dioxide is regarded as the most important of the manmade greenhouse gases blamed for raising the temperature on the planet over recent decades.

Human sources come principally from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.

Ministers in the UK have claimed global leadership in reducing CO2 emissions and urged other nations to follow suit.

Sir Brian John Hoskins Sir Brian Hoskins said a greater sense of urgency was needed

But the official Climate Change Committee (CCC) last month said that Britain's total contribution towards heating the climate had increased, because the UK is importing goods that produce CO2 in other countries.

The last time CO2 was regularly above 400ppm was three to five million years ago - before modern humans existed.

Scientists say the climate back then was also considerably warmer than it is today.

Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, said a greater sense of urgency about tackling climate change was needed.

"Before we started influencing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, over the last million years it went between about 180 and 280 parts per million," he said.

"Now, since the Industrial Revolution and more in the last 50 years, we've taken that level up by more than 40% to a level of 400 and that hasn't been seen on this planet for probably four million years.

"But around the world, there are things happening, it's not all doom and gloom," he added.

"China is doing a lot. Its latest five year plan makes really great strides."

China's plan for 2011-2015 includes reversing the damage done by 30 years of growth and increasing the use of renewable energy.

 

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 355.

    The single major problem having many deleterious effects on this planet is gross overpopulation. No government will act on this though but the Islamists are working hard on this!
    Peter D

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 354.

    The good news is that they've run out of mushy peas at Wembley so that is at least a start in the reduction of harmfull emissions.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 353.

    WAKE UP WAKEUP!!!! This is nothing to do with cars, power stations or industry. The real problem is that the human population is unsustainably large for the planet and it's resources. Thanks to western influences everyone in the developing economies aspires to the same lifestyle as we have. So if I sell my car and buy a bike how much difference will it make as 1.3 billion Chinese hit the road?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 352.

    328 sieuarlu
    Hi, can you back up your assertion with a reference? I'm not trying to get into an argument, but I have a degree in physics and 'particle' has always been understood to be quite a general term encompassing molecules, atoms, etc.

    339.
    I am me
    I believe the original poster was referring to the absorption and emission spectra of 'Greenhouse Gasses'.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 351.

    #341 A sentiment most people share. (for the record I'm treating greens as a distinct group separate from people who are concerned about the environment) The main problem seems to be that if something is both practical and efficient if automatically gets the label of "Ungreen" with various groups fighting tooth and claw against it

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 350.

    Still no mention of ocean acidification and the carbon cycle..

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 349.

    345.JP
    Simple solution; plant more trees!
    ----
    Trees only fix CO2 when there is light. In darkness they consume oxygen and create CO2. Thus trees and plants are not as good at soaking up CO2 as we'd hope

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 348.

    Given the rate of technological development, in a few hundred years we'll probably have the ability to set the atmospheric CO2 concentration to whatever level we choose.

    All this will be seen for the nonsense it is.

    Unless, that is, we decide to adopt "green" policies and put ourselves back in the stone ages.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 347.

    @332 No-one is denying a population problem. What do you suggest? Who do we cull 1st?

    Poverty is linked to high population increase, and many environmental and social problems. The world economy would need to change to slow the population increase, for which there is no political or economic motivation yet as the people in power have no wish to relinquish it. It is a similar scenario to @318.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 346.

    331. Neil Smith
    US and UK data show since 2000 we've had 8 out of 9 hottest global temperatures on record.

    This argument is laughable. The Met Office say that 2012 was "the ninth warmest" and next year they will say 2013 was the tenth warmest, 2014 the eleventh and so it will go on. Anything to avoid saying that it isn't getting warmer!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 345.

    I work at a UK university, and from what I do in my job, the quantity of paper we get through each week is staggering. Though we do have an excellent recycling process in place.

    Simple solution; plant more trees!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 344.

    That's two AGW stories today, this one and the one on globally warmed migrating ducks which was all over the news this morning. How much CO2 does the UK produce on a global scale? Was planet Earth a scorched hellhole the last time this event happened?

    Same old FUD. Drip... drip... drip.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 343.

    The human race is running out of time on this matter.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 342.

    We Need to Pass World Laws in the UN Outlawing these Volcanos!!!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 341.

    Whether you believe in man-made global warming or not, who wants to live in pollution? Carbon emissions should be reduced, even if only to live in a cleaner environment.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 340.

    CO2 levels might be at their all time high now. That is not to say they won't stop getting any higher.
    The main reason for this is NOT all the pumping out of CO2 emitting stuff.
    It's the chopping down and destruction of the Forests and Jungles that feed off any CO2 in the atmosphere.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 339.

    @294

    Please explain how such particles can have an affinity for absorbing heat. You say you study climatology, which is a science. No scientist would write such rubbish, ergo you are not a climatologist. Please comment only on subjects you understand.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 338.

    @ Titan
    "Things will not change until Consumerism, Capitalism and Economic Prosperity are no longer given top priority in our lives."

    So what's your recipe? Communism? LOL! Climate is changing constantly: actually, life wouldn't be possible if it wasn't. But forces that involved in this process are truely titanic - governments and scientists on the government tit can do nothing about that.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 337.

    In 50 years the concentration goes up by 40%. we Know are testing the result.All should think about the future, may be after few years, we don't know what will happen according to this rat. switch to renewable energy(but still it is not efficient to implement and substitute fossil fuel) , we may create our safe world, behind that all politician should agreed and committed to save people.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 336.

    the best absolute definitive destruction of the man made global warming hysteria by Stefan Molyneaux

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gDErDwXqhc

 

Page 18 of 35

 

More Science & Environment stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.