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The amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere is at levels not seen in millions of years, since when Earth was an ocean-inundated planet, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have said.
Atmospheric CO2 is one of the major causes of climate change, and the Earth is currently experiencing levels 50 percent higher than they were in pre-industrial times.
Pieter Tans, senior scientist with the NOAA's Global Monitoring Laboratory, said: “Carbon dioxide is at levels our species has never experienced before – this is not new.
“We have known about this for half a century, and have failed to do anything meaningful about it. What's it going to take for us to wake up?"
The burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and gas, release gasses including carbon dioxide and methane into the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans.
In the past two decades, Earth’s temperature has risen about two-thirds of a degree Fahrenheit, according to NOAA.
And NOAA says this increase has lead to numerous – often devastating – impacts on the weather such as drought, flooding, soaring temperatures and wildfires.
University of Illinois climate scientist Donald Wuebbles has warned that unless we cut carbon dioxide levels ‘we will see ever more damaging levels of climate change, more heat waves, more flooding, more droughts, more large storms and higher sea levels’.
Geochemist Ralph Keeling of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography has said we’ll be dealing with a ‘global catastrophe’ unless something is done.
He said: "It's depressing that we've lacked the collective will power to slow the relentless rise in CO2.
“Fossil-fuel use may no longer be accelerating, but we are still racing at top speed towards a global catastrophe.”
Last month, NOAA announced that average carbon dioxide (CO2) levels hit a record high of above 420 parts per million in April, while in May it rose again to 421 parts per million.
Tans has warned that we are not doing enough to try and bring down rising CO2 levels.
Speaking to Axios last month, Tans said: "The world effectively has made no serious progress compared to what is required.
"We really need to focus on decreasing emissions and we haven't had much success globally because the rate of increase of CO2 remains as high as it has been in the last decade."
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