Carbon dioxide levels on the earth reached an all-time record high in 2016, a new United Nations report revealed, and that added stress to the environment and humanity over longer periods could lead to struggles over resources and unrest in various parts of the world post-globalization.
According to a BBC report, emissions caused from humans have leveled off but the concentrations of it in the atmosphere continues to grow, the UN report claims. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is the group that studied this issue and provided the data from 2016, revealing the record high amount of carbon dioxide, an 800,000 year high, according to media reports covering the story.
According to the Worldwatch Institute, a group that studies climate change and its impact on human society and the environment, global warming may have disastrous effects on human populations across the globe. With rising temperatures, problems associated with the spread of diseases (particularly vector-borne diseases carried by third parties like mosquitoes between people), rising sea levels, extreme weather and food insecurity may wreak havoc and put pressure on human civilization.
What is more disturbing about the data, according to a Reuters report, is that the rate of increase was observed at a level not reached for millions of years. Bloomberg reported that number was up from last year’s 400 parts per million (ppm) to 403.3 parts per million. The WMO said this news will represent changes seen in the short-term in the immediate future from this pollution, including economic and ecological damage.
After the election of United States President Donald Trump, the U.S. pulled out of the Paris Accord agreement that was an attempt to seriously deal with climate change. Trump and other Republicans in the Congress are climate change skeptics, but a majority of the scientific community believes that not only is climate change real, but it is having real damaging effects right now and that we are near a tipping point as a society. Steven Hawking, a renowned physicist who wrote the book “Universe in a Nutshell,” has warned of acid rains and a temperature that would make earth’s surface uninhabitable for human beings altogether, much less other forms of life.
El Nino also contributed to the rise, according to the report and related research, as a drought decreased the ability of vegetation and forest to absorb the carbon dioxide. Deforestation and fossil fuel burning are the other two major culprits. The WMO said if levels are not cut, the end of the Century will see dangerous climate changes. The globe will also feel continued pressure to deal with energy consumption.