Atmospheric CO2 Jumps +4 ppm in June Compared to June 2015
Graphic showing global warming from 1850–2016. Notice the rapid outward spiral near the end (source).
by Gaius Publius
A climate note, to add some perspective to the "very encouraging" or "just in the margins" changes to the Democratic platform, as you prefer to see them.
Last April we noted this — "Atmospheric CO2 Is Rising Off the Chart — Spikes Above 409 ppm on April 10". That number, 409 ppm CO2, was from the daily chart at Mauna Loa, one of the main stations measuring atmospheric CO2. (There's also an hourly chart, a weekly chart and a monthly chart, all showing mean measurements over a stated time period.)
Here's what the hourly chart showed then:
Preliminary weekly (red line), monthly (blue line) and daily (black points) atmospheric CO2 averages at Mauna Loa for the last year (my annotation; source; click to enlarge)
This shows that for April 10, 2016, the daily average atmospheric CO2 was above 410 ppm. In contrast, consider that as recently as 2013 the daily average peaked above 400 ppm for the first time in recorded history and the monthly average was just a hair short at 399.76 ppm.
The monthly data is now in for May and June of this year (monthly peaks are always in May), and the chart below shows that data:
A quick summary of this year's atmospheric CO2 vs. last year's measurement:
Daily mean CO2 at peak, 2015 — 404.63 ppm
Daily mean CO2 at peak, 2016 — 409.34 ppm
Difference — 4.71 ppm
Monthly mean CO2, June 2015 — 406.81 ppm
Monthly mean CO2, June 2016 — 402.80 ppm
Difference — 4.01 ppm
Increase in atmospheric CO2 varies from year to year based on a number of factors. CO2 isn't just pumped into the air; it's also extracted from the air by a number of natural processes (dissolved into the ocean, extracted by plant photosynthesis, and so on). Volcanic activity and the temperature of the ocean are also factors. So there's no guarantee this rate will continue. On the other hand, we could be at the start of a spiraling-out-of-control period.
That said, the average increase in CO2 over the ten-year period ending in 2014 was +2.11 ppm. Over the prior ten-year period, the average increase was +1.87 ppm. The increase this year — +4 ppm — blows those numbers out of the water.
A Simple Calculation
Consider a simple calculation. Most governments that try to show they are interested in ending man-made CO2 emissions have "exit rates" — rates at which humans go to zero emissions — which nonetheless have us increasing emissions as late as 2050. The underlying assumption is that if we start the count at 400 ppm in 2014 (per the monthly chart at the above), then add +2.11 ppm per year, we don't get to 450 ppm for roughly 20-25 years (allowing for modest acceleration in the growth rate). But if atmospheric CO2 growth suddenly zooms to +4 ppm/year starting with this year's 406 ppm, we're at 450 ppm in 11 years.
Eleven years from now is 2027, and 450 ppm is a game-over scenario. Partly because global warming will have shot well past +2°C, producing enough social, political, economic and military chaos to make a global solution impossible; and partly because if we haven't stopped Exxon et al before then, we never will, and the process will go to termination. That is, we won't stop until we're once more pre-industrial, or worse.
Climate Destruction and the Democratic Convention
And that's what's at issue in the Democratic Party's lack of commitment to end (not reduce the rate of, but end) global warming. The degree to which Hillary Clinton, or any Democratic Party official, serves the interests of Exxon and the frackers who finance their campaigns, is the degree to which she and the rest of us doom our grandchildren to go ungently indeed into a very warm, very long, civilization-ending night. With the lights turned off.
For more on that platform fight and its importance, read this:
The title is the bottom line.