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CO2 Levels in Antartic Reaches Record High in 4 Million Years -- Fossil Fuels the Culprit?

Jun 20, 2016 07:51 AM EDT
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Alert! The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced that the amount of carbon dioxide in the Antartic has reached record-breaking numbers of 400 parts per million (ppm), the first occurence in four million years. NOAA said that the carbon dioxide will not decrease even after many centuries.

According to Mashable, the Halley Research Station in Antartica has announced the CO2 level last week. The recent report follows the alarming rates in the Greenland ice sheet and the peak of Mauna Loa in Hawaii. Perf Science notes that NOAA has been aware of the rise of carbon dioxide level since 1958. CO2 levels rose at 399 ppm in 2015 and has reached the 400 ppm mark this year.

Pieter Tans from NOAA's Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network also noted that carbon dioxide levels are higher in colder months due to the absence of CO2-absorbing plants.

However, the question is, who is to blame for this alarming rise in carbon dioxide?

Tans said that human activities are mainly to blame for the rise of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. He explained that burning fossil fuels for energy, especially during the start of the industrial revolution, has contributed to the dramatic increase of carbon dioxide.

A press release from the British Antartic Survey and University of East Anglia notes that this is the first time that 400 ppm has been recorded throughout the day at a research station located in an icy region.

David Vaughan, director of science at British Antarctic Survey, added, "The remoteness of the Antarctic continent means it is one of the last places on Earth to see the effects of human activities, but the news that even here the milestone of carbon dioxide levels reaching 400 parts per million has been reached shows that no part of the planet is spared from the impacts of human activity."

Perf Science says that carbon dioxide, which is produced by burning fossil fuels, is the primary cause of global warming. The 400 ppm mark detected in Antartica is more alarming as the region is so remote and cold that carbon dioxide accumulate slowly there.

Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at UEA, said that the alarming discovey shows that there is an urgent need to give up the use of fossil fuels as an energy source and decrease the emissions to zero.

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