Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit 406.27 parts per million (ppm) on Feb. 8. That is the highest ever daily average as determined at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. Mauna Loa is where the Scripps Institution of Oceanography takes daily atmospheric measurements (scripps.ucsd.edu).

 

The milestone level of 400 ppm was passed on what seems to be a permanent basis some weeks ago. 

 

Current daily readings: 

Feb. 15, 2016, 403.61 ppm

Average for the month of January 2016, 402.52 ppm

Average for the month of January 2015, 399.96 ppm

 

The 2016 election for President of the U.S. will matter for the next 10,000 years because “a considerable fraction of the carbon emitted to date and in the next 100 years will remain in the atmosphere for tens to hundreds of  thousand years.” That comment comes from the Vox Energy and Environment web site, which calls itself “a public citizen energy blog.”

 

Either we elect someone who will work to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel or we won’t. Our action will influence decisions to be made by other countries about adopting or continuing carbon-reduction practices. As we go, so goes the world.

 

If you’ve read this far you are exceptional. One of our climate issues is that the sheer size of the problem makes it very difficult to even think about. Try thinking about 50 years or 100 years from now. How about 10,000 years from now? Most of us have difficultly thinking about what's going to happen tomorrow or next week. As the blog says, life is hard enough already without trying to seriously appreciate what we are doing to the future of Earth.

 

It would be helpful if news reports about climate developments and the on-going debate about reality would point out that the problem will continue to grow for thousands of years. It will not stop in 50 or 100 years even if those are the time periods most often mentioned.

 

“The terror of the Anthropocene — our new geological epoch, in which humans are the primary driver of global change — is that we now have grown in scale and power so much that our decisions echo across centuries. But our brains and moral instincts remain as tribal and parochial as ever,” says the Vox blog.

 

Scary, right?

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