Despite all the focus on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, there continues to be little progress toward actually accomplishing reductions. A combination of growing populations, increasing industrialization in the developing world, and just plain reluctance on the part of many sectors of society to act, have all contributed to the continuing buildup of climate-altering gases in the atmosphere.
Levels of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide – the three greenhouse gases produced by human activity that are the major contributors to climate change – all continued historically high rates of growth in 2022.
CO2 levels rose by 2.13 parts per million last year, roughly the same rate observed during the past decade. The current level of 417 ppm is 50% higher than pre-industrial levels. Increases of more than 2 ppm have occurred for 11 consecutive years. Prior to 2013, there had never even been 3 years in row with increases of that size.
Methane levels increased by 14 parts per billion, the fourth largest increase over the past 40 years. Methane levels in the atmosphere are now two-and-a-half times greater than their pre-industrial level.
The third most significant greenhouse gas – nitrous oxide – also saw a large increase, reaching 24% above pre-industrial levels.
Carbon dioxide emissions are by far the most important contributor to climate change and the continuing widespread burning of fossil fuels is the primary source. There are widespread intentions to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but those intentions have not yet resulted in sufficient actions.
Greenhouse gases continued to increase rapidly in 2022
Photo, posted May 16, 2014, courtesy of Flickr.
Earth Wise is a production of WAMC Northeast Public Radio