What does this Number mean?

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By; Rob Monroe

The Mauna Loa carbon dioxide (CO2) record, also known as the “Keeling Curve,” is the world’s longest unbroken record of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. This record, from the NOAA-operated Mauna Loa Observatory, near the top of Mauna Loa on the big island of Hawaii, shows that carbon dioxide has been increasing steadily from values around 317 parts per million (ppm) when Charles D. Keeling began measurements in 1958, to nearly 400 ppm today.

Scientists make CO2 measurements in remote locations to obtain air that is representative of a large volume of Earth’s atmosphere and relatively free from local influences that could skew readings. The quality of data is verified before daily average values are determined.

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Enhanced Greenhouse Effect

Smog in Shanghai

Three main greenhouse gases—CO2, CH4, and N2O—are rising because of human activities such as the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas. Resulting pollution is visible above Shanghai, China.

 

A study released by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2010 said; “Climate change is occurring and is caused largely by human activities and poses significant risks for and in many cases is already affecting a broad range of human and natural systems.” The climate will continue to change for decades as a result of past human activities but scientists say that the worst impacts can still be avoided if action is taken soon.

Warming has not been limited to the Earth’s surface; the Oceans have absorbed most of the heat that has been added to the climate system resulting in a persistent rise in ocean temperatures. Over time, the heat already absorbed by the ocean will be released back to the atmosphere causing an additional 1 °F of surface warming.  In other words, some additional atmospheric warming is already “in the pipeline.”

Turk & Bensel, 2014

Age of Oil

Mountain Topping: when miners use explosives to remove the tops of mountains to gain access to coal buried deep within.

Mountain Topping occurs when miners use explosives to remove the caps of mountains to gain access to coal buried deep within.

Coal and Natural Gas are two possible alternatives that could replace our dependence of oil in the near future, but both have severe environmental consequences. Coal is more abundant than oil and it is assumed to exist in nearly inexhaustible quantities. It can be used to produce electricity, sustain a cleaner environment than oil, and drive production for electric transportation.” (Turk and Bensel, 2014) Acidification however, is a fundamental drawback to dirty coal and its poisonous levels of CO2 on the environment are slowly choking our oceans and everything in it.

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