According to the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have reached 400ppm.
The Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii announced that the average carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere crossed the threshold of 400ppm (parts per million) on May 10. Atmospheric levels of CO2 have been steadily rising for 200 years, ever since the start of the Industrial Revolution.
Project Coordinator at Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, Tristen Taylor says: “The crossing of the 400ppm threshold is one of the last wake up calls we will get. This threshold is quite sobering as we are more and more facing the fact that climate change will not be restricted to a rise in temperatures of 2°C.”
As South Africa is currently generating most of its electricity by burning coal. The country is a also major emitter of CO2 and heavily contributes to climate change.
We aren’t taking this seriously
The South African Department for Environmental Affairs acknowledges the accepted position that global temperatures should not rise above 2° Celsius in order to avoid catastrophic climate change. However, South Africa still relies heavily on the burning of fossil fuels and the government is planning to continue do so even in the medium term.
Programme Officer at Earthlife Africa Jhb, Makoma Lekalakala says: “We need to act now. We need to start shifting towards clean and renewable energy technology and drastically reduce emissions of greenhouse gases – otherwise we will bring our livelihoods even closer to collapse.”
The poor are hit the hardest by the negative effects of climate change: disrupted water supplies and flash floods, longer and more intense heat waves and negative health impacts affecting employment opportunities as well as food security.
One hand washes the other
Tristen Taylor states says, “Instead of moving forward combining South Africa’s development agenda with the mitigation of climate change, the government still tries to address these as unassociated issues. Job creation and poverty eradication need to result from the mitigation of climate change – as green jobs in a sustainable and developing country. The costs of adapting to climate change are far greater than the costs of mitigating it.”
Mauna Loa station has been monitoring CO2 levels since 1958. Each year, the recorded concentration of CO2 at Mauna Loa rises and falls in a sawtooth fashion, with the next year higher than the year before. The peak of the sawtooth typically comes in May.
For weekly average CO2 reports at Mauna Loa, click here.