May 31 News: Carbon Dioxide Pollution Reaches ‘Troubling New Milestone’ — 400 PPM Over The Arctic

A round-up of the top climate and energy news. Please post other links below.

The world’s air has reached what scientists call a troubling new milestone for carbon dioxide, the main global warming pollutant. Monitoring stations across the Arctic this spring are measuring more than 400 parts per million of the heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere. The number isn’t quite a surprise, because it’s been rising at an accelerating pace. Years ago, it passed the 350 ppm mark that many scientists say is the highest safe level for carbon dioxide. It now stands globally at 395. [AP Story by Seth Borenstein]

It’s been at least 800,000 years — probably more — since Earth saw carbon dioxide levels in the 400s….

Readings are coming in at 400 and higher all over the Arctic. They’ve been recorded in Alaska, Greenland, Norway, Iceland and even Mongolia. But levels change with the seasons and will drop a bit in the summer, when plants suck up carbon dioxide, NOAA scientists said.

“It’s an important threshold,” said Carnegie Institution ecologist Chris Field, a scientist who helps lead the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “It is an indication that we’re in a different world.”

Related Post:

  • Science: CO2 levels haven’t been this high for 15 million years, when it was 5° to 10°F warmer and seas were 75 to 120 feet higher — “We have shown that this dramatic rise in sea level is associated with an increase in CO2 levels of about 100 ppm.”

An international coalition of nearly 100 people protested outside the Chevron shareholders’ meeting Wednesday in San Ramon. They claim the company is engaging in risky and dangerous operations overseas. [ABC]

My argument is that the same general principles that lead libertarians and conservatives to call for greater protection of property rights should lead them to call for greater attention to the most likely effects of climate change. Libertarians readily accept this principle when government planners violate property rights in the name of economic development (see e.g., Kelo v. New London). Yet they seem to abandon their commitment to property rights when it comes to global warming. [The Atlantic]

In the three years since President Barack Obama took office, Republicans have made the Environmental Protection Agency a lightning rod for complaints that his administration has been too tough on oil and gas producers. But an Associated Press analysis of enforcement data over the past decade finds that’s not the case. In fact, the EPA went after producers more often in the years of Republican President George W. Bush, a former Texas oilman, than under Obama. [AP]

American Electric Power conceded defeat on Wednesday, at least temporarily, in its push to save Big Sandy, its 49-year-old coal-burning plant in eastern Kentucky, surprising state officials there by withdrawing its $1 billion plan to retrofit the power plant so that it can meet tough new federal environmental regulations. [NYT]

A massive wildfire that has burned more than 265 square miles in the Gila National Forest has become the largest fire in New Mexico history, fire officials confirmed Wednesday.
The erratic blaze grew overnight to more than 170,000 acres, surpassing a blaze last year that burned 156,593 acres in Los Conchas and threatened the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the nation’s premier nuclear facility. [WSJ]

13 Responses to May 31 News: Carbon Dioxide Pollution Reaches ‘Troubling New Milestone’ — 400 PPM Over The Arctic

  1. From Peru says:

    The heat is on in the Siberian Arctic. There is a Dipole Anomaly forecasted there:

    The Dipole anomaly (a high pressure over Canada and low pressure on Siberia) is the most damaging weather pattern in the Arctic. It brings warm air from the south that not only warm the area, but also push the sea ice toward Fram Strait where it melts.

    There are already record warm temperatures in Tiksi, Siberia:

    Warm air is widespread in Siberia:

    And it seems the sea ice is already feeling all that:

  2. LH says:

    I hope someone who reads this has the time to go to the Atlantic article and point out how factually incorrect the author is

  3. John Tucker says:

    This looks to be of concern beyond natural decay considering the rate, they are looking into it – it will be interesting to see the results:

    Coal seam gas ‘bubbling to surface’ on Condamine River

    He said the gas was bubbling to the surface at at least four spots along the river, where a landowner says a CSG company is operating.

    ( )

  4. John Tucker says:

    The Coal Hard Facts

    Between 2001 and 2010, U.S. coal consumption fell by 5 percent and domestic carbon dioxide emissions dropped by 1.7 percent. But over that same time period, global coal consumption soared by 47 percent, or the equivalent of 23 million barrels of oil per day. Put another way, over the past decade or so, global coal consumption increased by about the same amount as the growth in oil, natural gas and nuclear combined.

    Coal use is soaring because demand for electricity is soaring. Between 1990 and 2010, global electricity production increased by about 450 terawatt-hours per year. ( )

  5. John Tucker says:

    IEA sets out the “Golden Rules” needed to usher in a Golden Age of Gas (,27266,en.html )

  6. David F. says:

    Meanwhile, in denialist fantasy land, North Carolina politicians have proposed a bill to prevent state agencies from considering global warming when projecting future sea level rises.

  7. John Tucker says:

    Energy-related CO2 emissions are higher by 1.3% compared with the Golden Rules Case but, in both cases, emissions are well above the trajectory required to reach the globally agreed goal of limiting the temperature rise to 2°C. .

    Selling NG as a “bridge fuel” was probably a critical mistake. If renewables are used beyond intermittent power supplements and peaking power stopgaps they need to be installed in such a way, from the beginning that they are self sufficient energy. Not dependent on gas and/or enhancing of its infrastructure.

  8. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Don’t worry. The new Hard Right regime in Queensland, fresh from abolishing literary awards and support groups for HIV and AIDS victims and female prisoners (they are just getting started)will simply ignore this. The Murdoch sewer will ‘investigate’ and declare it another evil ‘Greenie scare story’ and the path to self-destruction will be kept open, come what may. It’s about time to get the message-they, ‘Them’, the 0.01% want humanity to go to Hell, and they are working feverishly to ensure it.

  9. John Tucker says:


    ENERGY SOURCE Q 1, 2011 Q 1, 2012 PERCENTAGE
    (million tonnes CHANGE YR/YR
    coal equivalents*)
    Oil 37.3 37.0 – 0.8
    Natural gas 36.0 35.1 – 2.6
    Hard coal 15.0 15.3 + 2.0
    Lignite 13.7 14.8 + 8.3
    Nuclear Energy 14.2 10.2 – 28.4
    Renewables 12.2 13.3 + 8.7
    Foreign power trade
    balance – 1.0 – 1.0 …
    Others 2.0 2.0 – 2.8

    TOTAL 129.4 126.7 – 2.1

    ( )

  10. John Tucker says:

    I have to admit having the entire green blogosphere rave on your green prowess citing a intermittent spike a few days ago while ignoring a 10 percent increase of coal, eight of it lignite, was pure PR gold.

    And look at the real numbers of the “renewables” star:

    oil 37.0
    Natural gas 35.1
    Hard coal 15.5
    Lignite 14.8
    Renewables 13.3

    What is going on here.

  11. Joe Romm says:

    Yes, it is quite incorrect.

  12. John Tucker says:

    Gas rebranded as green energy by EU

    The insertion of gas energy as a low-carbon energy into an EU programme follows more 18 months of intensive lobbying by the European gas industry, which is attempting to rebrand itself as a green alternative to nuclear and coal, and as lower cost than renewable forms of power such as wind and sun.

    In a secret document seen by the Guardian, a large slice of billions of euros of funds that are supposed to be devoted to research and development into renewables such as solar and wave power are likely to be diverted instead to subsidising the development of the well-established fossil fuel.( )

    I would like to see the document.

  13. The facts on CO2 concentrations are out now confirming our fears. We have a chice to complain and blame someone or do something about it. This is the time to ACT and implement smart green solutions. Collect valuable rain water and plant new trees and green gardens replacing parts of old black top parking lots. Switch to hybrid- electric vehicles and renewable energy sources with tax credits and low rate loans. Future is in our hand to focus on doing the right things when the experts will continue to argue about why it is happing and take a ” do nothing” approach.