Atmospheric CO2 Levels Rise Despite Declining Emissions During Pandemic – Peterborough


In May 2021, levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 420 parts per million, an increase of about 50% since the industrial revolution.

“This amount of carbon dioxide has been around 280 ppm since the last ice age and now it has increased in this very strong exponential increase over the past 150 years,” said Stephen Hill, associate professor at the school of the environment of Trent University in Peterborough, Ont.

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. It is found in nature, but humans produce more of it by burning fossil fuels. And human activities like deforestation have an impact on how to reduce it in the atmosphere. Once in the atmosphere, it absorbs and releases heat.

Hill said CO2 essentially isolates the planet.

“When you have this gas in the atmosphere, it’s like having a blanket around the Earth and so it kind of warms the Earth,” Hill said. “Just like you would have a duvet on your bed to warm you, carbon dioxide warms the Earth.”

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This, he said, is the root cause of climate change. He said we are already seeing an increase in the global average temperature, more frequent and violent weather events and a change in the chemistry of the oceans. All are connected and have an impact on the global climate, he said.

“We’re kind of running an experiment on the global climate and we don’t know exactly how it’s going to play out in the next 200 or 300 years, but we know it’s going to change it significantly,” Hill said.

The Global Carbon Project reported a 7% drop in emissions during the pandemic, attributable to reduced travel and reduced industrial activity, but Hill said this is not expected to have a significant impact in the long term.

“The problem is that our emissions have increased again, so we haven’t really seen a noticeable change in the total amount of greenhouse gases and the concentration in the atmosphere,” Hill said.

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“We need to get to net zero to balance the amounts we invest with the amounts that forests and other technologies absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”

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To do this, Hill said we will need to dramatically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and curb deforestation. He also said that we must ask politicians to include environmental policy and action.

Beth McKinlay, member of the environmental advocacy group For Our Grandchildren, said we need to let our politicians know that climate action is a priority.

“Politicians have a lot of work to do on this and they’re more likely to do it when they realize how much we care,” she said. “Studies suggest the public wants to do more (to protect the environment), but we have to show the people who make these decisions.”

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McKinlay said we also need to raise awareness and continue to have climate conversations. She said it was important to make green choices ourselves and create a ripple effect for environmental action.

“Maybe I take an electric car or put solar panels on my roof and someone sees it and says, ‘Hey, maybe this is something I could do too’, did she say.

Climate activist Malaika Collette said she had seen an increase in interest in the green movement, especially after Greta Thunburg started protesting for climate action in 2018.

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“In recent years, once Greta started to strike, the youth movement gathered momentum all over the world,” Collette said. “This is what gives me hope, to see the masses of people on the streets fighting for change.”

She said that although they were unable to hold public protests during the pandemic, they are still advocating for the environment.

“I can assure you these people are still here. They are still organizing themselves, so the young people have definitely mobilized and there are all the generations working for this, but there has certainly been an increase in the participation of young people, of course, ”said Collette. .

“It’s like COVID-19 data in some ways. I know if I stay home, wear my mask and do my part, the overall risk goes down, ”Hill said. “Well, we all have to do our part for the climate; every amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increases our risk of global change. “

You will now be able to see the latest information on daily carbon dioxide levels during Caley Bedore’s weather forecast on Global News Peterborough, weekdays at 6 p.m.

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