Heading 391.06ppm to 350ppm CO2 Concentration in the Atmosphere

Yangki Imade Suara*

Global warming is mainly the result of CO2 levels rising in the Earth's atmosphere. Both atmospheric CO2 and other greenhouse gases. and climate change are accelerating. Climate scientists say we have years, not decades, to stabilize CO2

350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.

350.org is an international campaign dedicated to building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis--the solutions that justice demand. 350.org focus is on the number 350--as in parts per million, the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. But 350 is more than a number--it's a symbol of where we need to head as a planet.

Report from CO2now.org stated that in 2009, the average concentration for atmospheric CO2 (Mauna Loa Observatory) was 387.35 parts per million (ppm). In 2008, it was 385.57 ppm. Since the 1958 start of precise CO2 measurements in the atmosphere, the annual mean concentration of CO2 has only increased from one year to the next.   There have been no decreases in annual CO2 levels since direct instrument measurements began. The following CO2 data provides a snapshot of the longest-running, high-precision instrument record for atmospheric CO2:
Year        CO2 (ppm)               Notes
2009       387.35                   Copenhagen Accord
2008       385.57                   The latest year for which a full year of data is available
2007       383.71                  
2006       381.85 

1997       363.47                   Kyoto Protocol
1992       356.27                   Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro
1987       348.98                   The last year in which the annual CO2 data was less than 350 ppm
1959       315.98                   The first year for which a full year of precise instrument data is available 

Last month, the CO2 concentration was 391.06. That means there was an increasing about 3.71ppm from last year. Here's the graphic from CO2now.org listed the CO2 concentration from March 1958 til March 2010.

Last year COP15 in Copenhagen, Denmark produce Copenhagen Accord. Article 2 in this Accord stated that "deep cuts in global emissions are required according to science" (IPCCC AR4) and agrees cooperation in peaking (stopping from rising) global and national greenhouse gas emissions "as soon as possible" and that "a low-emission development strategy is indispensable to sustainable development".

We're heading forward to achieve what scientist believe hat 350ppm is the safe CO2 concentration for human life. Reduce 391.06 to 350ppm CO2 will be a hard task, but not impossible. Bill McKibben the founder of 350.org stated that "We need to stop taking carbon out of the ground and putting it into the air. Above all, that means we need to stop burning so much coal—and start using solar and wind energy and other such sources of renewable energy –while ensuring the Global South a fair chance to develop. If we do, then the earth’s soils and forests will slowly cycle some of that extra carbon out of the atmosphere, and eventually CO2 concentrations will return to a safe level. By decreasing use of other fossil fuels, and improving agricultural and forestry practices around the world, scientists believe we could get back to 350 by mid-century. But the longer we remain in the danger zone—above 350—the more likely that we will see disastrous and irreversible climate impacts."

* An undergraduate student majoring Economics in Faculty of Economics, Padjadjaran University and focusing in Environmental Economics.

350.org 350 Science
CO2.now Atmospheric CO2 for March 2010
UNFCCC Copenhagen Accord

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Edited by Yangki Imade Suara

Copyright 2010 by Anshul Dudeja