Monday, April 27, 2009

Greenhouse Gases Still Increasing

The atmospheric concentrations of two greenhouse gases continued to increase in 2008.

Researchers measured an additional 16.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) — a byproduct of fossil fuel burning — and 12.2 million tons of methane in the atmosphere at the end of December 2008. This increase is despite the global economic downturn, with its decrease in a wide range of activities that depend on fossil fuel use....

Viewed another way, for every million molecules of air, another 2.1 molecules of carbon dioxide entered the atmosphere last year and stayed there — slightly less than the 2.2 parts per million (ppm) increase in 2007. Total global concentrations topped 386 ppm, compared to 280 ppm before the industrial revolution began in the 1800s.
Methane is the worse of the two gases, but both fuel the greenhouse effect. While the amount of increase was slightly down from 2007, it matches the long-term trend of continual increase.