The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is at its greatest point in human history.

 The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is at its greatest point in human history.

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is at its greatest point in human history.

Carbon dioxide levels are rising, indicating that countries are making little progress toward the Paris Agreement objective of reducing global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. That's the point at which scientists believe the likelihood of catastrophic climate change effects grows considerably.

According to scientists, the amount of planet-warming carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached a new high in May, continuing its upward trend. It is now 50% higher than the pre-industrial normal, which occurred before humans began significant use of oil, gas, and coal in the late 1800s.

Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration claimed there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere currently than there has been in at least 4 million years.

The concentration of the gas reached nearly 421 parts per million in May, the peak for the year, as power plants, vehicles, farms and other sources around the world continued to pump huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Emissions totaled 36.3 billion tons in 2021, the highest level in history.

As the amount of carbon dioxide increases, the planet keeps warming, with effects like increased flooding, more extreme heat, drought and worsening wildfires that are already being experienced by millions of people worldwide. Average global temperatures are now about 1.1 degrees Celsius, or 2 degrees Fahrenheit, higher than in pre-industrial times.

Growing carbon dioxide levels are more evidence that countries have made little progress toward the goal set in Paris in 2015 of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. That’s the threshold beyond which scientists say the likelihood of catastrophic effects of climate change increases significantly.

They are “a stark reminder that we need to take urgent, serious steps to become a more climate-ready nation,” NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said in a statement.

Although carbon dioxide levels dipped somewhat around 2020 during the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, there was no effect on the long-term trend, said Pieter Tans, a senior scientist with NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory.

The rate of increase in carbon dioxide concentration “just kept on going,” he said. “And it keeps on going for about the same pace as it did for the past decade.”

Tans and others at the laboratory calculated the peak concentration this year at 420.99 parts per million, based on data from a NOAA weather station atop the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii.

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