The level of CO2 in the atmosphere is growing rapidly: what threatens us

Over the past few years, many countries have made significant efforts to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere as a result of industrial activities. Replacing fossil fuel processing plants with renewable energy sources, by the beginning of 2017, greenhouse gas emissions still managed to be reduced. This is a huge achievement.

However, a new study says this may not be enough. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere of our planet continues to increase. Greenhouse gas emissions have been growing ever since man began to burn fossil fuels centuries ago, but over the past few years this figure has been at about the same level. In 2015 and 2016, the amount of CO2 that people “pumped” into the atmosphere remained virtually unchanged from the 2014 level.

If the amount of CO2 that enters the atmosphere every year is equalized, then the total amount of CO2 must stabilize over time, right? However, according to recent NOAA data, total CO2 in the air is growing at a record pace. The carbon dioxide crisis of the Earth does not seem to slow down, but accelerates. Over the past two years, CO2 emissions have reached a record high.

Graph of atmospheric CO2 levels over the past 50 years

It is hard to say why this is happening. Some scientists blame the recent eruption of the El Nino volcano, but the volcano fell asleep again in early 2016 and a year later should no longer significantly affect the climate. A more likely and alarming hypothesis is that there is no one else to absorb carbon dioxide. There are a number of carbon sinks on Earth that absorb it from the atmosphere. The two largest are the oceans and terrestrial plants, each of which absorbs about 25% of the world's CO2 emissions annually. The problem is that even these large ecosystems can become saturated.

If the carbon uptake rate drops, then the Earth has big problems. This means that we need to accelerate the development of carbon capture technologies, which are currently mostly theoretical. It may also mean that we can experience the far stronger effects of climate change than scientists predict.

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