Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide may be approaching Levels of 15 million years ago never before experienced by Human Ancestors

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Syed Tahir Rashdi
As a United Nations agency released new climate projections showing that the world is on track in the next five years to hit or surpass a key limit of the Paris agreement, authors of a new study warned Thursday that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is nearing a level not seen in 15 million years. For the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom examined CO2 levels during the Late Pliocene about three million years ago "to search for modern and near future-like climate states," co-author Thomas Chalk explained
in a series of tweets. The level of carbon dioxide is approaching amounts that have been unseen in 15 million years and perhaps never seen by a hominoid. The research, published in journal Nature Scientific Reports, suggests that by 2025 the Earth may have carbon dioxide levels not experienced since the Middle Miocene Climatic Optimum, which refers to a wave of extinctions of terrestrial and aquatic lifeforms roughly 15 million years ago. The researchers used data derived from the boron levels in tiny fossils from the Carribean Sea to construct a high-resolution record of carbon dioxide levels. Co-author of the study, Thomas Chalk, said, Currently, our CO2 levels are rising at about 2.5 ppm per year,
meaning that by 2025 we will have exceeded anything seen in the last 3.3 million years. The secretary- general of the World Meteorological Organization noted the study, and said of it, This study shows – with a high level of scientific skill – the enormous challenge ahead in meeting the Paris agreement on climate change target of keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2C above pre- industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5C". We are burning through the Pliocene and heading towards a Miocene-like future," warned co-author Gavin
Foster, referencing a period from about 23 to 5.3 million years ago. It was during the Miocene, around 15 million years ago, when "our ancestors are thought to have diverged from orangutans and become recognizably hominoid," the Guardian noted. Reporting on the study elicited concern and calls for action from environmentalists and advocacy groups. "Every kilo of CO2 we emit is one we have to
sequester later, provided the food doesn't run out first," tweeted Extinction Rebellion Finland, urging the international community to Act Now. Nathaniel Stinnett, executive director of the U.S.-based Environmental Voter Project, also responded to the report on Twitter, saying, "Big Oil and Gas are killing us. A new report released Thursday by the U.N.&  World Meteorological Organization (WMO) about global temperatures likely coming in the next five years provoked similar alarm and demands.

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