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The news from NOAA, “Greenhouse Gases Continue to Climb Despite Economic Slump,” is that all our dawdling on climate action this decade is having real impact on the atmosphere:
Two of the most important climate change gases increased last year, according to a preliminary analysis for NOAA’s annual greenhouse gas index, which tracks data from 60 sites around the world.
Researchers measured an additional 16.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) “” a byproduct of fossil fuel burning “” and 12.2 million tons of methane in the atmosphere at the end of December 2008. This increase is despite the global economic downturn, with its decrease in a wide range of activities that depend on fossil fuel use.
That meant a 2.1 ppm rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations to 386 ppm, easily the highest levels homo “sapiens” sapiens have ever seen, which is not news (see “World carbon dioxide levels jump in 2008 to highest in 650,000 “” if not 20 million “” years“), but should still worry everyone since it continues the nearly 40% higher rate of growth of concentrations this decade compared to last. It also meant a 4.4 part per billion rise in methane concentrations, which definitely is news — and far more worrisome.
Sharply rising methane levels have been implicated in most every major rapid warming spell in Earth’s history, as Nature (subs. req’d, excerpted below) explained in a report last month. The report, on what they called “a ticking time bomb,” warned the “vast stores of methane “” a potent greenhouse gas “” could be released from frozen deposits on land and under the ocean.”