Greenhouse Gas Levels Soar to All Time Record High, WMO Report Reveals

First Posted: Nov 09, 2015 09:30 AM EST

Greenhouse gas emissions have hit yet another record, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). In 2014, a new high was reached, continuing a relentless rise which is fueling climate change.

Between 1990 and 2014, there was a 36 percent increase in radiative forcing-the warming effect on our climate-because of long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) from industrial, agricultural and domestic activities.

"Every year we report a new record in greenhouse gas concentrations," said Michel Jarraud, WMO Secretary-General, in a news release. "Every year we say that time is running out. We have to act now to slash greenhouse gas emissions if we are to have a chance to keep the increase in temperatures to manageable levels."

Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 reached 397.7 parts per million (ppm) in 2014. In the Northern hemisphere, CO2 concentrations crossed the symbolically significant 400 ppm level in 2014 spring, when CO2 is most abundant. In spring of 2015, the global average concentration of CO2 crossed the 400 ppm barrier.

"We can't see CO2," said Jerraud. "It is an invisible threat, but a very real one. It means hotter global temperatures, more extreme weather events like heatwaves and floods, melting ice, rising sea levels and increased acidity of the oceans. This is happening now and we are moving into unchartered territory at a frightening speed. Excess energy trapped by CO2 and other greenhouse gases is heating up the Earth surface which leads to increase in atmospheric water vapor which in turn is generating/trapping even more heat."

The latest findings show the importance of reducing the amount of CO2 today. As greenhouse gases continue to rise, it's more important than ever to take steps to reduce emissions.

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