Climate change news: Carbon dioxide, methane up again, NOAA says – USA TODAY
The steady drumbeat of emissions fueling global warming continued unabated in 2022, federal scientists announced this week.
Levels of carbon dioxide and methane, the two greenhouse gases emitted by human activity that are the most significant contributors to climate change, continued their “historically high rates of growth” in our atmosphere during 2022, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said, which added that the gases are now in “uncharted levels.”
“The observations collected by NOAA scientists in 2022 show that greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at an alarming pace and will persist in the atmosphere for thousands of years,” said Rick Spinrad, the NOAA administrator, in a statement. “The time is now to address greenhouse gas pollution and to lower human-caused emissions.”
According to the Global Carbon Project, although the world is working to pivot to carbon-free energy sources like wind, solar and nuclear, it isn’t moving fast enough to keep up with rising energy demands.
What is carbon dioxide? Here’s what to know and a look at how it contributes to global warming.
What are the causes of climate change?: And how can it be stopped?
‘Highest sustained rate of increases’ of carbon dioxide
The global surface average for carbon dioxide during 2022 was 417.06 parts per million (ppm), which is an increase of 2.13 ppm over the 2021 average, NOAA said.
2022 was the 11th consecutive year carbon dioxide increased by more than 2 ppm, the highest sustained rate of increases in the 65 years since monitoring began.
The increase in carbon dioxide coincided with yet another anomalously warm year for the planet in 2022: Data from both NASA and NOAA agreed that global average temperatures last year were among the warmest on record.
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Which countries emit the most carbon dioxide?
Previous data shows three countries account for the lion’s share of global carbon dioxide emissions. China is highest, at 32%, though that’s begun to fall slightly. The United States is next with 14%, an increase of 1.5% over 2021.
India’s emissions continue to rise and now make up 8% of the global total. Together, the 27 nations of the European Union account for 8%.
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Methane also increased last year
Atmospheric levels of methane, a powerful, heat-trapping greenhouse gas that’s the second-biggest contributor to human-caused global warming after carbon dioxide, also increased in 2022.
Methane increased to an average of 1,911.9 parts per billion (ppb) in 2022. The 2022 methane increase was 14.0 ppb, the fourth-largest annual increase recorded since NOAA’s measurements began in 1983, and follows record growth in 2020 and 2021.
“Our latest measurements confirm that the most important greenhouse gases continue to increase rapidly in the atmosphere,” said Stephen Montzka, a senior scientist with NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory. “It’s a clear sign that much more effort will be required if we hope to stabilize levels of these gases in the next few decades.”
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What causes global warming?
The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, which has caused the temperature of Earth’s atmosphere to rise to levels that cannot be explained by natural causes, scientists say.
Carbon dioxide is called a greenhouse gas because of its ability to trap solar radiation and keep it confined to the atmosphere.
It is invisible, odorless and colorless yet is responsible for 63% of the warming attributable to all greenhouse gases, according to NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Colorado.
Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are similar to where they were during the mid-Pliocene epoch, about 4.3 million years ago, NOAA said.
During that time period, sea level was about 75 feet higher than today, the average temperature was 7 degrees Fahrenheit higher than in pre-industrial times, and studies indicate large forests occupied areas of the Arctic that are now tundra.
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Contributing: Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY