The annual peak of global heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air has reached another dangerous milestone: 50 percent higher than when the industrial age began.
And the average rate of increase is faster than ever, scientists reported Monday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the average carbon dioxide level for May was 419.13 parts per million. That’s 1.82 parts per million higher than May 2020 and 50 percent higher than the stable pre-industrial levels of 280 parts per million, said NOAA climate scientist Pieter Tans.
Carbon dioxide levels peak every May just before plant life in the Northern Hemisphere blossoms, sucking some of that carbon out of the atmosphere and into flowers, leaves, seeds and stems. The reprieve is temporary, though, because emissions of carbon dioxide from burning coal, oil and natural gas for transportation and electricity far exceed what plants can take in, pushing greenhouse gas levels to new records every year.
“Reaching 50 percent higher carbon dioxide than