June 4 (UPI) – The highest levels of carbon dioxide concentration in human history have been recorded at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.
During the month of May, CO2 levels averaged 414.8 parts per million, levels not present on Earth in millions of years.
CO2 levels normally peak in Mauna Loa at this time of year, but carbon dioxide levels have increased steadily over the past few decades. This year's peak was 3.5 parts per million higher than last year's peak of 411.3 parts per million.
Climate scientists agree that the increase of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere, resulting from the burning of oil, gas and other fossil fuels, is to blame for the increase in global temperatures.
"Many proposals have been made to mitigate global warming, but without a rapid decrease in CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, they are quite useless," Pieter Tans, senior scientist at NOAA's global monitoring division, told USA Today.
Carbon dioxide is the most abundant greenhouse gas, but the levels of other planetary warming gases such as methane are also increasing. NOAA tracks many of them.
Earlier this year, NOAA announced that the Annual Greenhouse Gas Index, a measure of greenhouse gas emissions and their impact on the atmospheric heat trapping capacity, was raised to a value of 1.43.
"Greenhouse gas pollution traps heat in the atmosphere, which has consequences," James Butler, director of NOAA's Global Monitoring Division, said in a press release. "There is no way to avoid it: the burning of fossil fuels is changing the course of the future of our planet, and the way in which society deals with that will be a great challenge in the coming decades."
The agency also announced that CO2 levels increased at a record rate in 2018, echoing the findings of other studies that showed that carbon emissions increased around the world after a few years of minimal growth.