CO2 Levels In the Atmosphere Have Dropped!!

September 22, 2016 glenn Uncategorized

It’s remarkable. We have worked so hard to reduce fossil fuel emissions, yet they keep climbing. Now, something magic has happened. Atmospheric CO2 levels are now lower than they were a month ago. Using weekly average readings, CO2 levels have dropped about 8 ppm over the last five months. Readings at Mauna Loa were 409.44 ppm on April 9, 2016. As of today, the last published reading was 400.67 on September 20. If this keeps up, the planet will cool in no time!!
CO2-6month-Sept22-2016
Just look at that downward trend!!

If this were a denier blog, I might write, “See! It’s all a hoax. CO2 levels are much lower now.” Well it’s not a hoax. CO2 levels plummeted this summer, but they plummet every summer. It’s all part of the way nature works. Photosynthesis uses CO2 to makes sugars. That CO2 comes from the atmosphere, and with billions of acres using CO2, that can mean a major draw down in atmospheric carbon. In the wintertime, plants decay and release some of that CO2 back into the atmosphere, so never fear, levels will climb again. Because fossil emissions are so massive, nearing 40 gigatons (Gt) annually, that will cause the level to beat that record of 409.44 ppm. Expect 412 ppm next April. (The reason the southern hemisphere growing season doesn’t cause downward readings is that its temperate land area is much less, so much less plant growth occurs.)

Earth’s plant productivity, combined with draw down from the oceans, causes 215 Gt of “carbon” to leave the atmosphere each year. (That’s carbon. To calculate CO2 multiply the carbon number by 3.67.) Most of that cycles back due to respiration and decay, but some remains in vegetation, soil, and oceans, about 5 Gt per year.

Carbon Cycle -- nasa.gov

The Fast Carbon Cycle Credit: nasa.gov


(Note: This image’s units are in Gigatons of Carbon, not CO2.)

Nature has once again displayed its incredible power. Why not use that incredible power? Thankfully, there are millions of acres of trees being planted. Cover crops with no till can cause massive amounts of carbon to be sequestered in soil. As more livestock becomes pastured and managed to avoid damaging grasses and soils, those lands become restored, with rapid topsoil growth and increases in organic soil carbon.
ARS-USDA-CowsGrazingCoverCrops
We now have plenty of extra CO2 that can be used for this … if us humans decide to do so. There is plenty of degraded land, and there is tremendous need to increase the supply of healthy food.

The CO2 draw down this summer was indeed remarkable. We must all work together, young, old, rural, urban, regardless of geography or politics to draw down even more, and increase less. This is a worthy goal, and one that can be accomplished in a generation. Be as awesome as you can be, and find ways to make the needed change happen. Let’s get going!


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