IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


7th June, 2023 Environment

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  • In May 2023, Levels of heat-trapping carbon dioxide reached to a new peak as per National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California.
  • It was measured as 424 parts per million at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Atmospheric Baseline Observatory.

Other details

  • Compare to the starting of industrial age CO2 levels now increased more than 50 per cent of that level.
  • In 1958 CO2 observation was started by Charles David Keeling, at the Mauna Loa weather station.Here it was observed that CO2 levels decreased throughout the spring and increased in the autumn.
  • He recorded such variations of CO2 with the help of Keeling Curve.

Ideal level of CO2 in earth atmosphere

  • By volume, the dry air in Earth's atmosphere consists of 08 percent nitrogen, 20.95 percent oxygen, and 0.93 percent argon.
  • Other gases are present in trace amount which accounts for approximately 0.04 percent.
  • Atmospheric CO2 levels of between 280 and 350 parts per million are considered optimal hence they are favourable to climate, agriculture and help in sustainable existence of this planet.
  • CO2 levels should be limited to 430 ppm. Increasing levels more will overshooting the 1.5-degree goal and lead to warming of the planet.

Threats posed by increasing levels of CO2

  • The increase in the levels of CO2 may accentuate the occurrence of heatwaves, droughts, flooding, wildfires and storms.
  • It may threaten the safeguarding of this planet and the life.
  • Increase temperature and acidification of ocean due to these increased levels also threaten and disrupt marine ecosystems and animals.

Ocean acidification

Oceans absorb about 30 per cent of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced on earth. It is due to this uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) from earth atmosphere, pH of ocean water is reduced. This led to acidification of Oceans which makes change in the properties of ocean water and can be harmful for plants and animals.

Reasons for increasing level of CO2

  • CO2 is a greenhouse gas which absorbs heat and when in excess produce carbon dioxide pollution.
  • Burning fossil fuels for electricity production and transportation.
  • Consumption culture leading to untapped use of resources.
  • Production of cement, logging, agricultural and many other industrial activities.

Keeling Curve

It is a graph, named after Dr. Charles David Keeling that represents the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in Earth’s atmosphere since 1958. It was first done in 1956 by studying atmospheric carbon dioxide. Air samples were taken and amount of CO2 they contained was measured.

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There exists a link between rising CO2 level and the sustainability of life on the planet. Elaborate. Also enumerate the reasons behind the rising level of CO2 in earth’s atmosphere. (150 words)