The amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere has reached 440 parts per million. It’s the first time it’s reached that number since scientists began tracking it. Actually, it’s the first time it’s reached that number in millions of years.

NPR’s Richard Harris digs into why the number is important — it’s not the number itself that’s significant, but it is “a reminder of just how rapidly our atmosphere is changing.”

‘Dangerous Territory:’ Carbon Dioxide Levels Reach Iconic High : NPRThe Earth’s atmosphere is entering a new era. A mountain-top research station that has been tracking carbon dioxide for more than 50 years says the level of that gas in our air has reached a milestone: 400 parts per million.

(Image credit: Jonathan Kingston/National Geographic/Getty Images)





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‘Dangerous Territory’: Carbon Dioxide Levels Reach Milestone 16 May,2013Molly Samuel

  • When measurements began in Mauna Loa in 1958, CO2 levels were as low as
    317 ppm. Though the number 400 is in itself an arbitrary data point,
    it’s certainly a stark reminder of the still-growing problem of
    greenhouse gas emissions.


Molly Samuel

Molly Samuel joined KQED as an intern in 2007, and since then has worked here as a reporter, producer, director and blogger. Before becoming KQED Science’s Multimedia Producer, she was a producer for Climate Watch. Molly has also reported for NPR, KALW and High Country News, and has produced audio stories for The Encyclopedia of Life and the Oakland Museum of California. She was a fellow with the Middlebury Fellowships in Environmental Journalism and a journalist-in-residence at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. Molly has a degree in Ancient Greek from Oberlin College and is a co-founder of the record label True Panther Sounds.

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