Carbon Dioxide Level Passes Long-Feared Milestone - NYTimes.com
The level of the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide, has passed a long-feared milestone, scientists reported on Friday, reaching a concentration not seen on the earth for millions of years.
“It feels like the inevitable march toward disaster,” said Maureen E. Raymo, a Columbia University earth scientist.
“It takes a long time to melt ice, but we’re doing it,” Dr. Keeling said. “It’s scary.”
Climate-change contrarians, who have little scientific credibility but are politically influential in Washington, point out that carbon dioxide represents only a tiny fraction of the air — as of Thursday’s reading, exactly .04 percent. “The CO2 levels in the atmosphere are rather undramatic,” a Republican congressman from California, Dana Rohrabacher, said in a Congressional hearing several years ago.
But climate scientists reject that argument, saying it is like claiming that a tiny bit of arsenic or cobra venom cannot have much effect. Research shows that even at such low levels, carbon dioxide is potent at trapping heat near the surface of the earth...Correction: May 10, 2013
An earlier version of this article misstated the amount of carbon dioxide in the air as of Thursday’s reading from monitors. It is .04 percent, not .0004 percent.