When I was born, CO2 was 316 ppm. You work it out ;-). At this rate, we are set to blow right past 450 ppm and any hope of staying within 2C of warming in less than 20 years. Not good… It’s up to all of us to rethink everything we do that contributes to CO2 emissions. Where we live, how we move, what we eat. Everything.
Climate change is, first and foremost, a consequence of the addition of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We emit carbon dioxide, through burning fossil fuels or forests, and some of that carbon stays in the atmosphere, intensifying the heat-trapping greenhouse effect and warming the climate. What kind of global warming we’ll see in the future will largely be due to how much carbon dioxide—and to a lesser extent, other greenhouse gases like methane—we add to the atmosphere. And to fully understand the future, we need to understand the present and the past, and track the concentration of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The fact that we can and have been tracking that very important number is due largely to the efforts of the geochemist Charles David Keeling. As a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology in the 1950s, Keeling developed the first instrument that could accurately measure the…
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