The concentration of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere has reached the highest level in human history.

The human race has broken another record on its race to ecological collapse.

For the first time in human history — not recorded history, but since humans have existed on Earth — carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has topped 415 parts per million, reaching 415.26 parts per million, according to sensors at the Mauna Loa Observatory, a research outpost of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency.

The macabre milestone was noted on Twitter by the climate reporter Eric Holthaus, based on the data recorded and presented by theScripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.

The last time atmospheric levels of CO2 were this high was around 3M years ago, when sea levels are estimated to be 82 feet higher than they are today.

Courtesy of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Why it matters

Greenhouse gases contribute to the planet maintaining a temperature that can sustain life, but too much can impact the entire ecosystem that sustains us. That’s what’s happening now. As the NOAA notes, “increases in greenhouse gases have tipped the Earth’s energy budget out of balance, trapping additional heat and raising Earth’s average temperature.”

The properties of CO2 also mean that it adds to the greenhouse effect in a way that other emissions do not, thanks to its ability to absorb wavelengths of thermal energy that things like water vapor can’t. That’s why increases of atmospheric carbon dioxide are responsible for about two-thirds of the total energy imbalance causing Earth’s temperature to rise, according to the NOAA.

Carbon emissions are set to cost the U.S. alone some $500 billion per year by 2090, according to Tech Crunch.


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