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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 — The Earth has exceeded the threshold of 400 parts per million (ppm) in carbon dioxide emissions that scientists agree will send the planet towards irreversible climate change.
The planet surpassed the symbolic limit this month in what climate researchers believe is a permanent manner, at least for the foreseeable future.
More worryingly for scientists was the fact that this limit was breached in the month of September, traditionally the period when carbon emissions are at their lowest due to the growth plants that are critical for the absorption of carbon dioxide.
“Is it possible that October 2016 will yield a lower monthly value than September and dip below 400 ppm? Almost impossible,” according to Ralph Keeling, the researcher who conducts carbon dioxide monitoring for the Scripps Institute for Oceanography.
“Brief excursions toward lower values are still possible, but it already seems safe to conclude that we won’t be seeing a monthly value below 400 ppm this year ― or ever again for the indefinite future.”
The level of 400ppm of carbon emissions was agreed by climate researchers in the 1990s as a so-called “tipping point” after which human intervention would no longer be able to reduce global climate change.
Scientists believe the rising temperatures that will follow would affect crop and livestock yields, worsening the world’s food production.
Lasting detrimental environmental changes such as the heating up of the oceans that would exacerbate polar melting as well as disrupt marine ecosystems would also follow.
Researchers currently agree that 350 ppm is the “safe” level at which global warming can be contained or even reversed.
The Earth has breached the 400 ppm mark before, albeit briefly before dropping below the psychological line in the sand.
Effects of global warming are also increasingly apparent. Rising temperatures this year are set to make 2016 the hottest ever recorded in the history of mankind.
World nations are currently on the verge of ratifying the Paris Agreement on climate change in India this Sunday. Malaysia is one of the 195 countries that adopted The Paris Agreement, an international legally binding treaty for post-2020 climate action.
Scientists yesterday impressed upon the world the urgency with which more action was needed to limit carbon emissions, warning that global warming was now set to exceed the 2 degrees Celsius threshold by 2050 without significant commitment by government to drastically cut greenhouse gasses.
“We've really got a problem,” Robert Watson, a British-American scientist who was among the seven authors of the study and is a former head of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was quoted as saying by news agency Reuters.