Story at a glance
- As travel returns worldwide, carbon dioxide levels are increasing.
- Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are key contributors to climate change.
One of the U.S.’s premier observatories for measuring carbon dioxide emissions released into the atmosphere reported a record-breaking figure on April 3, noting a total of 421.21 particulate matter (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere — the highest daily average ever recorded.
421.21 ppm #CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere on April 3, 2021 HIGHEST EVER daily average at the Mauna Loa Observatory & 1st time > 420 ppm Up from 415.60 ppm a year ago #NOAA source: https://t.co/MZIEphYygh https://t.co/DpFGQoYEwb records: https://t.co/YU3HoKfp4a pic.twitter.com/xAKttc0rfS— CO2_Earth (@CO2_earth) April 5, 2021
Based on data collected at the Mauna Loa laboratory in Hawaii, the peak comes after relatively low readings throughout March and early April, aside from a single uptick recorded between March 19 to 21.
Notably, however, when observing annual trends, this record-breaking volume represents a return to pre-pandemic levels.
Carbon dioxide emissions have gradually increased since hitting record low levels during September and October of 2020, in the middle of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This is broadly due to less travel by car, plane and other modes of transportation during lockdowns.
Prior to these record drops, emissions had posted steady declines since May 2020, with decreasing carbon dioxide levels occurring monthly from June to September of 2020.
The holiday months of November and December of 2020 saw burgeoning increases as a travel boom gave way to another surge of COVID-19 infections. This trend of rising carbon dioxide levels continues to persist.
A silver lining of the mass economic shutdowns spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic were widespread decreases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, the main factors in anthropomorphic climate change.
As travel begins to resume, levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are also increasing to comparable pre-pandemic levels.
Since the 1960s, per Mauna Loa station data, atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased dramatically each decade.
Environmental advocates have underscored the need for sustainable policies of a government level to reduce the effects of climate change.