Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have gone up to historic levels despite economies worldwide coming to a near halt in the last 15 months owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, The Washington Post reported on Monday.
“Fossil fuel burning is really at the heart of this. If we don’t tackle fossil fuel burning, the problem is not going to go away,” Ralph Keeling, a geochemist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, was quoted in the report as saying.
Keeling said the world will have to undertake emissions cuts that are “much larger and sustained” than anything that happened during the pandemic, according to the Post.
The report cited conclusions drawn by scientists from Scripps and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who said that levels of CO2 peaked in May 2021, reaching a monthly average of nearly 419 parts per million.
It represents an increase from the May 2020 mean of 417 parts per million, the report says, and it also marked the highest level since measurements began 63 years ago at the NOAA observatory in Mauna Loa, Hawaii. Twice in 2021, daily levels exceeded 420 parts per million.
Pieter Tans, a senior scientist with NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory, was quoted as saying that “it shows we are still fully on the wrong track”.