According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane levels continued to rise in 2020, which means CO2 levels are the highest they have been in 3.6 million years. Despite expected decreases in emissions correlated with the pandemic, both emissions surged instead.

Source: CBS News/YouTube

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While it’s common knowledge that the rapid temperature increases and other changes we’ve seen are not natural, there is data from NASA to show how burning fossil fuels and other human-centric activities play a role in climate change.

“Human activity is driving climate change,” said Colm Sweeney, assistant deputy director of the Global Monitoring Lab. “If we want to mitigate the worst impacts, it’s going to take a deliberate focus on reducing fossil fuels emissions to near zero – and even then we’ll need to look for ways to further remove greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere.”

The global average of atmospheric CO2 reached 412.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2020, an increase of 2.6 ppm from 2019. This was the fifth-largest increase in the 63 years of this record keeping.  A senior scientist at NOAA, Pieter Tans, said the pandemic kept 2020 from being a record-breaking emissions year.

Methane also increased dramatically in 2020. “NOAA’s preliminary analysis showed the annual increase in atmospheric methane for 2020 was 14.7 parts per billion (ppb), which is the largest annual increase recorded since systematic measurements began in 1983,” the administration said.

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This finding correlates with other recent climate disclosures. NOAA found that in 2020 the United States received a record of climate and weather disasters, including extensive wildfires, hurricanes, and other disasters. Reports also found that 2020 was the second-warmest year on earth. 

Read more recent news on emissions and climate change, including the G20 report on energy use and Biden’s environmental plans. Learn more about climate change affecting marine life, including acidification harming Dungeness crabs,  the mystery of dead birds across Alaska, turtles in Cape Cod Bay, lobsters off the coast of New England, and whales in the Gulf of Maine.

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Sign this petition to demand that U.S. legislators come together to unanimously support a Green New Deal so that we can finally address the climate crisis.

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