The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere reached its highest level in May, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States (NOAA) announced this Thursday.
At the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii, the peak reached 417.1 parts per million, higher than in May last year, and despite the slowdown in CO2 emissions due to the covid-19 pandemic. According to scientists at NOAA and the University of California, the maximum value of CO2 in the atmosphere this year was 2.4 parts per million higher than the peak of 414.7 parts recorded in May 2019.
According to information published on the official NOAA website, the monthly CO2 values in Mauna Loa for the first time exceeded the threshold of 400 parts per million in 2014, and are now at levels that have not been reached in the atmosphere for several million years.
"Progress in reducing emissions is not visible in CO2 records", says, quoted in the official information, Pieter Tans, NOAA scientist. “We continue to compromise our planet”, with more global warming, more sea level rise and more extreme weather phenomena.
Officials warn that if humans now stop emitting CO2, it would take thousands of years for emissions to be absorbed by the oceans and carbon dioxide levels to return to pre-industrial values.
The increase in CO2 in the atmosphere does not seem to reflect the reduction in polluting emissions caused by the slowdown in activity that covid-19 forced, but scientists explain that the drop in emissions would have to be much greater and add that variations must be taken into account. natural, since the way plants respond to seasonal and annual temperature variations. With an emission reduction of between 20% and 30% for six months to a year, a slowdown could be visible, they admit.
Although plants and oceans absorb about half of the 40 billion tonnes of CO2 pollution emitted by humans each year, the rate of increase in CO2 in the atmosphere has been steadily accelerating, they also say.