The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) revealed that carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane levels in the atmosphere continued to rise alarmingly in 2020, with CO2 level reaching their highest point in 3.6 million years despite the pandemic slowing down emissions.
“Human activity is driving climate change,” Colm Sweeney, assistant deputy director of the Global Monitoring Lab, said in an NOAA statement. “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 NOAA further reported that the global surface average for CO2, calculated from measurements collected at NOAA’s remote sampling locations, was 412.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2020, rising by 2.6 ppm during the year. The economic recession was estimated to have reduced 2020 emissions by 7 percent and it was further stipulated that without its impacts the 2020 increase would have been the highest on record.
Meanwhile, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego revealed similar findings stating that CO2 is now 50% higher than before the industrial revolution. This change was also attributed to human activity.
Securing the change we need to protect the planet and biodiversity will be no small task. Fortunately, though, technologists have been innovating for years, and a number of solutions have presented themselves. For starters, renewable energies are on the rise around the globe, with some nations coming remarkably close to meeting their energy needs with renewables.
Similarly, new technologies such as artificial photosynthesis and biofuel generation from beer waste are constantly showing up and changing the way we approach our energy needs. The emerging techs can even seem straight out of a science fiction film such as this startup's plans to use hills as enormous batteries or this device that makes electricity out of moisture.
As exciting as these innovations are for now it is best to rely on proven technologies at larger scales such as renewables and yes maybe even nuclear. Will it be enough to make a difference? Only time will tell but it's essential we try.