NOAA’s Global Monitoring Division reports that global concentrations of the primary heat-trapping greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, jumped 2.28 ppm in 2008.
A study in Science from the Global Carbon Project (see “More on soaring carbon concentrations“) noted:The present concentration is the highest during the last 650,000 years and probably during the last 20 million years.
Worse, the rate of growth of CO2 concentrations this decade is 2.1 ppm a year — 40% higher than the rate from the 1990s. At the same time that CO2 emissions are soaring, CO2 sinks are saturating (see “The ocean is absorbing less carbon dioxide“).
Even those who are skeptical of the computer models climate scientists use to make their climate change predictions ought to be very concerned about these numbers. We are changing this planet's atmospheric composition at an amazing rate. That's something that we should all take pretty seriously.
Speaking of the extent to which human activity is reshaping our planet, Wired reports:
The global shipping industry hasn't just tied together the world's nations economically, but biologically, too.
The average Great Lakes port, such as Chicago, is only an average of two degrees of separation from 80 percent of the ports in the world, from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam, according to new analysis of more than 2 million ship movements presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences annual meeting.
The boundaries of previously distinct geographies with their own distinct forms of life have been blurred by invasive organisms hitching rides on shipping vessels. The world's bodies of water are getting more homogeneous, leading some biologists to refer to the current era of global biological flatness as "the homogecene."
This brings E.O. Wilson's recent talk at the UI to mind. His message was that working to maintain robust biodiversity is the best way to ensure that we're being careful enough in our management of the earth's biosphere.
This is the only planet we know of that is capable of sustaining our civilization. Thus, its value to all of us is pretty much infinite. If we're smart, we'll start acting like it.