Concentration of carbon dioxide in atmosphere hits highest level in “millions of years”

Updated May 15, 2013

emissions smogA sobering report from the New York Times says that prolonged efforts to bring carbon dioxide emissions under control “are faltering,” according to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Though NOAA’s new data showed only a small increase from the last data, CO2 has reached an averaged daily level of 400 parts per million—a concentration that this planet has not seen for 3 million years. If you’re keeping score at home, and the NOAA is, that means the last time Earth’s atmosphere had this much CO2 was before humans evolved.

Pieter P. Tans, who runs the monitoring program at NOAA, didn’t mince words when it came to his assessment of emissions control. â€śIt symbolizes that so far we have failed miserably in tackling this problem,” Tans said.

But the NOAA isn’t the only monitoring program to record such results. Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego measured CO2 concentration at 400.08. That’s an even higher reading than NOAA’s 400.03.

According to the Times report, scientists fear “the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea.” Scientists suggest that there isn’t enough attention or funding being dedicated to the problem to slow human contribution to the problem.

On the construction and equipment manufacturing industry’s side, the rise of CO2 isn’t for lack of trying. Since 1996, emissions from off-road equipment has fallen by more than 95 percent. However, the primary emissions targeted by the Environmental Protection Agency’s emissions regulations primarily targeted nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter.

You find out more about the reduction in emissions contributions by off-road equipment in our infographic by clicking here.