Greenhouse gases reach record levels worse than worst case predictions
Published 22/11/2011 | 08:41
GREENHOUSE gases have reached levels exceeding even the worst case scenarios predicted by experts a decade ago, according to a new report.
Burning of fossil fuels, cutting down of carbon dioxide-absorbing forests and the increasing use of fertilisers led to record levels of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere last year.
The rate at which the gases are increasing has accelerated in the past decade, according to a report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the UN's weather agency.
Greenhouse gases, and carbon dioxide in particular, are a major contributor to global warming because they trap radiation within our atmosphere, bringing temperatures up.
The concentration levels published yesterday are even greater than the worst of seven possible emission scenarios predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2001.
Last week a separate study published by the IPCC said it was likely that extreme maximum temperatures could rise by 3C by the middle of the century.
Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the WMO, said: “Even if we managed to halt our greenhouse gas emissions today – and this is far from the case – they would continue to linger in the atmosphere for decades to come and so continue to affect the delicate balance of our living planet and our climate.”
The WMO report showed that levels of carbon dioxide rose by 2.3 parts per million between 2009 and 2010 – a faster rate of increase than the average of 2.0 ppm for the past decade.