UN: Greenhouse Gases Reach Record Levels


According to the United Nation’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO),  in a report released on November 23, 2009, the levels of all greenhouse gases continue to increase exponentially. In 2008, the global concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide, which are the main long-lived greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, reached the highest levels recorded since the pre-industrial era. Since 1990, the overall increase in radiative forcing caused by greenhouse gases has been 26 percent, and the increase was 1.3 percent from 2007 to 2008.

Greenhouse gases trap radiation within the earth’s atmosphere causing it to warm. Human activities such as fossil fuel burning and industrialized agriculture are major emitters of greenhouse gases, which scientists recognize as being the drivers of global warming and climate change.

The four most prevalent long lived greenhouse gases that are directly influenced by human activities are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and halocarbons. The WMO coordinates the observations of these gases in the atmosphere in stations located in more than 50 countries.

The globally averaged mixing ratio of CO2 in 2008 was 385.2 ppm (number of molecules of the gas per million molecules of dry air). It was an increase of 2.0 ppm from 2007, continuing an exponential increase. Carbon dioxide has contributed 63.5 percent to the increase in overall radiative forcing since 1750. According to the WMO, the atmospheric abundance of CO2 was nearly constant at 280 ppm before the year 1750. The main causes of the dramatic increase in CO2 since the industrial revolution have been the combustion of fossil fuels (oil and charcoal), deforestation and land use change. Organizations such as Greenpeace and 350.org recommend that CO2 emissions should be kept in a range of 350 ppm or below to avoid catastrophic consequences of global warming and climate change.

The globally averaged mixing ratio of CH4 in 2008 was 1797 ppb (number of molecules of the gas per billion molecules of dry air). By comparison, before the industrial revolution, atmospheric CH4 was about 700 ppb. Methane has contributed 18.2 percent to the increase in overall global radiative forcing since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Sixty percent of CH4 emissions come from anthropogenic sources such as ruminants’ flatulence, rice agriculture, landfills and biomass burning. By cutting down our consumption of meat, we would not only greatly improve our cardiovascular health but also decrease the level of CH4 emissions by reducing the demand for beef.

These latest figures from the WMO confirm the continued trend of a rising atmospheric burden represented by greenhouse gases. It is not a coincidence that the WMO made the data available a few days before the UN-sponsored climate conference in Copenhagen. Unfortunately, the two biggest emitters, China and the United States, are dragging their feet about committing to a 20 to 45 percent CO2 emission reduction by 2020. In the US, a health care bill has monopolized everyone’s attention and made Americans forget that global warming and climate change will be highly hazardous to their health.


6 Responses to UN: Greenhouse Gases Reach Record Levels

  1. Stan Lippmann November 23, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    There is not an exponential increase in CO2, there is a linearly increasing seasonal fluctuation that has been going up in a straight line, not a exponential line, for a long time. There is no new evidence of anything here, just more evidence of these phony scientist relying on the trusting public that you can not extrapolate exponentially from a two point curve without demonstrating that you are too foolish even to recognize how foolish you will look to those of us who are open minded and simply judge the evidence placed before us.

    • Gilbert Mercier
      Gilbert Mercier November 23, 2009 at 8:59 pm

      Mr Lippmann,

      The data here is from the World Meteorological Organization. They are talking about an exponential increase in CO2 emission. I am surprise that you are calling the people of WMO “phony scientist”. This article is based on the WMO report, no extrapolation on my part. Also, I do not know if you were elected as Seattle’s City Councilman in 2007, but with all due respect I find your tone politically incorrect & a bit insulting.

      • Stan Lippmann November 25, 2009 at 6:35 pm

        I don’t understand how you can all be so lazy. Just look at the data from Muana Loa! Are you afraid to read a graph yourself? I have 3 degrees in physics and one in law, so I guess I forget that I’m not normal, that is I’m not afraid to read a graph, make a rational judgment about it, and let the lawyer in me call another human a fraud, it does happen you know. Now we should know it’s all a fraud from all the evidence coming out. Besides, CO2 is not at all correlated with temperature, as the last six years demonstrate. There is nothing else we need to no to reach the logical conclusion that this is all a swindle. The real question is not why you are too timid to think for yourself, but why do you want to believe bad news. Isn’t it good news that this is a fraud, that means we don’t have to give more power to the tyrants who rule the world.

    • Ole Ole Olson November 24, 2009 at 2:47 am

      What is more likely? That there is some vast conspiracy of tens of thousands of scientists around the planet in many inter-disciplinary fields to fool the public into global warming, or that an industry that stands to lose billions per day is engaged in a huge disinformation and confusion campaign?

      You need to take a step back, look at this whole issue from an objective position, and then follow a rational line of reasoning.

      • Stan Lippmann November 25, 2009 at 6:36 pm

        Yes, just about all scientist are ninnies because if they act up they get fired.

        BP and the rest are promoting this swindle, because they are grandfathered out and money will flow from our pockets, not theirs.

  2. Stan Lippmann November 25, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    CO2 has been going up monotonically for 50 years. It is nothing but distortion that it reach a new record level, because it reaches a new record level every year, and we have know this for 50 years, so how does 50 year old news become a headline? The apparent reality is that this has practically nothing to do with the weather, the only reason you think it does is because some expert said so, and you are knee-jerk conditioned by your culture to just believe whatever is presented to you as authoritative.

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