The World Meteorological Organization said in a report on Monday that greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere have reached all-time highs, and the rate of acceleration is increasing too. Carbon dioxide, in particular, has increased 2.3 parts per million between 2009 and 2010, after averaging a yearly increase of 2.0 parts per million for the previous decade.
Levels of methane and nitrous oxide are also increasing, mostly due to human activity, like farming and manufacturing. The "radiative forcing" of these gasses — the amount of impact that they have on energy exchange in the atmosphere (a.k.a. the impact on global warming) — is up 29% over the last 20 years. Last week, the U.S.'s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its own report saying essentially the same thing: our effort to cut greenhouse gasses is failing.
Worst of all, these current emissions concentrations are higher now than the worst predictions of seven possible scenarios given a U.N. climate panel 10 years ago. In other words, we've blown it.
Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is up 39% over pre-industrial times (before 1750), after remaining relatively steady for the previous 10,000 years or so.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.