Carbon dioxide levels are at a new record. That is the news from the World Metrological service over the last few days. The bad news is there does not seem to be any type of slowdown. Concentrations of other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide also surged as well in 2018. Emissions have to peak soon or we will not hit the 1.5°C limit agreed at Paris. All the green house gas levels are way above pre-industrial levels (how do we know that – from a variety of methods including gases trapped in the polar ice cores). Its worth pointing out that the last time CO2 levels were this high the temperature was 2-3C warmer and the see levels were 10-20m higher.
There is some good news, coal use has been plunging in some of the big emitters such as America and India and of course renewable energy is becoming cheaper than conventional energy sources. We do seem thanks to the school climate strikes and extinction rebellion to have reached an important tipping point in Western public opinion. In the UK general election climate change is a now major issue with all the main parties making big policy announcements (Tories less than the others). This is all helped by crazy weather with heatwaves in summer and floods in winter and huge forest fires in Australia and California. Me being cynical have always thought that the fact that carbon dioxide levels are at a new record would not be enough to shift public opinion and the West would only move when the effects of climate change struck close to home. This does seem to be happening, so overall I’m still hopeful, although far from complacent.