Earth’s CO2 Could Spike to a Level Not Seen Since the Dinosaurs

Written by Fatima Mahboob
12 · 10 · 17
Earth's CO2 Could Spike | Lifestyle Glitz

Scientists say CO2 could spike to unbelievable levels in future. Let us evaluate why they say so and how possible it is, really.

Earth’s history

The Antarctica we know today is very different from that it used to be 50 million years ago. Instead of perpetually snow covered (and polar bear filled) area at the edge of the world, it was covered with temperate forests filled with swamp loving reptiles. The average temperature along the equator used to be 100 degrees Farenheit.

That was approximately 55 million years ago, according to the University of California Museum of Paleontology, it was an era that did not have ice, the Epocene Epoch. The reason being the high concentration of CO2 which was present in the planet, the heat was enough to keep animals live during dark months. However, CO2 levels started dropping, earth cooled down and ice started forming on the poles of the planet killing those species which used to live under the warm weather.

CO2 Could Spike Even More

Nowadays, the due to the ever-increasing consumption of fossil fuels by humans, CO2 levels in the atmosphere have increased to a level never seen before and CO2 could spike even more in coming years. According to NASA the CO2 concentration hit 400 ppm in 2013, the highest recorded in the past 400,000 years.

Since 1960, CO2 has increased by more than 30 percent, or 100 ppm. Before the age of industrialization, or about 150 years ago, the amount of atmospheric CO2 was 280 ppm. The amount of atmospheric CO2 had remained at 280 ppm since about 10,000 years ago. An article by The Guardian states that “Globally averaged concentrations of CO2 reached 403.3 parts per million (ppm) in 2016, up from 400.00 ppm in 2015 because of a combination of human activities and a strong El Niño event,”

The El Niño event is one that extends to 12 months in which ocean waters are unusually warm according to the National Ocean Service. In February 2017, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that global carbon emissions have been measured at an all-time high.

The “El Niño event” is that since waters are unusually warm, droughts are more intense and plant’s inherent ability to absorb CO2 to produce O2 is weakened. The study that the World Meteorological Organization carried out warns that if the effects of the increasing CO2 concentrations are not reversed then a great climate change could result with disastrous effects.

Effect of increasing CO2 concentrations

Researchers are still investigating on what the effect of this might be for life on Earth. Gavin Foster, lead author of a study and a professor of isotope geochemistry at the University of Southampton in England said that atmospheric CO2 has already increased in the last two centuries at a rate not seen in the geologic record. The reason being the boom of industrialization in the last 150 years the temperature has increased 2 degrees Fahrenheit. The last three years have set new records in terms of high temperature and scientists fear that the melting of ice has crossed its tipping point. That is the best case scenario for 200 years from now, a new study has found. Unless we all act quickly, CO2 could spike to damaging extents for any life form on earth.

The increasing temperatures and CO2 concentrations are a reason to worry. However, a study made by Nature explains that by the 2100, the greatest effect on the concentration CO2 will be on plants. Their physiology and rate of CO2 absorption will change. Will this affect earth’s climate? Well, the article states that while the increase will affect some plant species, it is likely that it will not affect some plants. Moreover, the “rising CO2 is therefore likely to have complex effects on the growth and composition of natural plant communities.”

So What’s the Conclusion?

All the research so far is yet to come with a concrete answer with what will happen if CO2 could spike even more. However, messing with nature’s natural cycles is definitely not a good thing hence; we should all make a conscious effort to learn about climate change and what are the things we can do stop it.

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Fatima Mahboob