Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have averaged above 400 parts per million since the beginning of 2015, passing what climate scientists say is the symbolic point of no return for catastrophic global warming.
“Because of the likely major negative ramifications of CO2-induced warming on the climate, it serves as an important reminder: if we want to bequeath a liveable climate to future generations, we need to act now and not delay,” said Christopher O’Dell, a scientist at Colorado State University who also works on NASA’s climate satellite mission.
This is not the first time atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations passed 400 parts per million. The 400 ppm mark was first reached in March 2013. Environmental groups argue that passing carbon dioxide levels of 400 parts per million “is an ominous sign of what might come next.”
The eco-group 350.org says that “this is yet another sign that our dependence on fossil fuels is out of control.” The group argues that fossil fuels need to be phased out in order to bring carbon dioxide levels down to 350 part per million.
NASA scientists have also sounded the alarm on carbon dioxide levels passing 400 ppm. The government scientists argued it showed the need for mankind to stop using fossil fuels and switch to using green energy.
“We’ve put the planet on a high-carb diet for over a century. Time to get lean and go green,” said Dr. Josh Willis, an ocean warming and sea level rise expert at NASA.
But despite all the warnings about rising carbon dioxide levels, the Earth has not shown a warming trend for nearly two decades and weather has not gotten more extreme, as many scientists predicted.
Satellite datasets show that 2014 was not the warmest on record, rather, last year ranked as the 3rd and 6th warmest on record depending on which dataset is used. Japanese scientists reported that 2014 was the warmest on record by only 0.05 degrees Celsius — a statistical tie with 1998 — based on surface temperature readings.
As for the U.S., 2014 was only 34th warmest on record based on surface temperature readings. But even that estimate may be running hot, as a recent study points out that mountain weather stations have inflated temperature readings for years.
Not only have temperatures been flat for the last 18 years and three months, but there has been no rash of extreme weather events either.
University of Colorado climate scientist Roger Pielke, Jr. points out that the number of tropical cyclones making landfall globally is below what it was in 1970. Pielke wrote that “2014 had 10 total landfalls. This is second lowest (tied with 4 other years) since 1970.”
“The past four years have seen 50 total landfalls, the lowest four-year total since 1982,” Pielke added.
As for hurricanes, a category 3 or higher storm has not hit the U.S. since 2005, meaning the U.S. is still in the longest hurricane drought its seen since the early 20th Century. Pielke said that since “1900 US hurricane seasons have seen more than 20% less landfalls and are more than 20% less intense.”
Pielke even told Congress in 2013 that global warming was not making weather more extreme. In fact, extreme weather events are trending downward in many cases.
“It is misleading and just plain incorrect to claim that disasters associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or droughts have increased on climate timescales either in the United States or globally,” Pielke told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in 2013. “It is further incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases.”
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