Antarctica’s CO2 Levels Are Now the Highest in 4 Million Years

Nothing escapes CO2. Not even Antarctica.

Denis Burdin/<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com">Shutterstock</a>


Oof. We just passed yet another climate change milestone, and it’s a particularly troubling one. Carbon dioxide levels in Antarctica recently hit 400 parts per million, according to an announcement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday. It’s the first time in 4 million years that the region has reached such levels.

Carbon dioxide—a heat-trapping gas produced by burning fossil fuels—is the primary driver of global warming. Carbon dioxide levels have been on the rise all over the world, but because Antarctica is so remote, the pollutant has accumulated more slowly there. Antarctic CO2 concentrations first surpassed the 400 ppm mark on May 23, according to measurements taken at the South Pole Observatory.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

“The far southern hemisphere was the last place on earth where CO2 had not yet reached this mark,” Pieter Tans, the lead scientist of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network, said in a statement. “Global CO2 levels will not return to values below 400 ppm in our lifetimes, and almost certainly for much longer.”

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk

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Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

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