Just above this column on the weather page of the Guardian’s print edition is the daily atmospheric carbon dioxide readings from Mauna Loa in Hawaii, the acid test of how the world is succeeding in combating climate change. A week before the 28th annual meeting of the United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention opens in oil-rich Dubai, it makes depressing reading.
At the time of writing it is 422.36 parts per million. That is 5.06ppm more than the same day last year. That rise in 12 months is probably the largest ever recorded – more than double the last decade’s annual average.
To give some perspective, exactly a decade ago the concentration was 395.64ppm. Then the scientific community worried about the effect on the weather if we were to pass the 400 mark. Now we know: the result is catastrophic heatwaves, storms, droughts, floods and rapidly increasing and unstoppable sea level rise.
The figures underline the fact that after 27 annual meetings of the convention, all the efforts of nearly 200 member states to tackle the menace of the climate crisis have been a failure, so far. The situation continues to get worse ever more rapidly. There is no sign of carbon dioxide levels going down, let alone reaching the “safe” level of 350ppm.
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