It caused a ruckus (is that still a word?) back in 2013. Four years ago, can you imagine? That's when we learned that atmospheric carbon dioxide had broken through the 400 ppm mark for the first time in - well it seemed like forever. Many hundreds of thousands of years to be sure.
Guess what? A scant four years later and we've broken 410 ppm of atmospheric CO2, a level not seen in millions of years. It shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Those fake news, alarmist, climate science hoaxters predicted it would happen this year and, surprise, surprise, they were right - unless it really is a hoax but I wouldn't count on that.
In what’s become a spring tradition like Passover and Easter, carbon dioxide has set a record high each year since measurements began. It stood at 280 ppm when record keeping began at Mauna Loa in 1958. In 2013, it passed 400 ppm. Just four years later, the 400 ppm mark is no longer a novelty. It’s the norm.
“Its pretty depressing that it’s only a couple of years since the 400 ppm milestone was toppled,” Gavin Foster, a paleoclimate researcher at the University of Southampton told Climate Central last month. “These milestones are just numbers, but they give us an opportunity to pause and take stock and act as useful yard sticks for comparisons to the geological record.”
“The rate of increase will go down when emissions decrease,” Pieter Tans, an atmospheric scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said. “But carbon dioxide will still be going up, albeit more slowly. Only when emissions are cut in half will atmospheric carbon dioxide level off initially.”
Even when concentrations of carbon dioxide level off, the impacts of climate change will extend centuries into the future. The planet has already warmed 1.8°F (1°C), including a run of 627 months in a row of above-normal heat. Sea levels have risen about a foot and oceans have acidified. Extreme heat has become more common.
All of these impacts will last longer and intensify into the future even if we cut carbon emissions. But we face a choice of just how intense they become based on when we stop polluting the atmosphere.
Right now we’re on track to create a climate unseen in 50 million years by mid-century.
The moral of the story, kids, is that we're not going back to the climate we enjoyed back in the 60s or even the 80s. We're not even going to keep the curious climate we've got today where you never know if next week you'll be golfing or shoveling snow. No, we're in for a far rougher ride than that and we won't have long to wait for the next climate to set in. That gun's already loaded.
The moral concerns our choices for the world our grandkids and theirs will live in, the climate they'll have to endure. We're already beyond the point where we can make their climate nearly as good as the weather we have today. What we can still do, however, and what our prime minister and all the petro-polls of Parliament Hill on both sides of the aisle are so plainly intent on doing is to make their ordeal far worse than necessary. Trudeau and company, just like Harper and company, are banking on bitumen for our prosperity but they're stiffing future generations with the bill.