World News

CO2 levels in atmosphere hit record high in 2016

Posted October 30, 2017 6:29 a.m. EDT

— Concentrations of carbon dioxide surged at a record breaking speed in 2016, according to the annual Greenhouse Gas bulletin compiled by the World Meteorological Organization.

The Geneva-based organization said that levels of the heat-trapping gas CO2 in the atmosphere are the highest in in 800,000 years.

"The abrupt changes in the atmosphere witnessed in the past 70 years are without precedent," WMO said in a statement.

The report cited a combination of "human activities and "a strong El Niño event" as the reason why carbon dioxide levels increased so swiftly.

"Without rapid cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, we will be heading for dangerous temperature increases by the end of this century, well above the target set by the Paris climate change agreement," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

"Future generations will inherit a much more inhospitable planet," he added.

The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3-5 million years ago, the temperature was 2-3 degrees Celsius warmer and sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now, the WMO said.