The accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere passed the CO2 equivalent of 500 ppm in 2019.

CO2-Earth tweeted a grim milestone yesterday after NOAA released data showing that the combined influence of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere has hit the CO2 equivalent of 500 ppm. Not one press release and zero media coverage have occurred since the release of the NOAA data were made public. Though Daily Kos is a blog centered on electing Democratic candidates, consider this post the first media outlet to report on this critical issue.

CO2- Earth:

NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory posts an Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI) that tracks yearly changes in the warming-influence of long-lived, trace greenhouse gases.  

As reported May 14, 2020, by NOAA-ESRL with an update to its AGGI webpage, the combined influence of all greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere reached the equivalent of 500 ppm CO2 in 2019.  With carbon dioxide and other GHGs continuing to accumulate in the atmosphere, despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, humanity’s climate crisis has now surpassed the symbolic milestone of 500 ppm CO2e.  

Observation by CO2.Earth:  No media releases or coverage of the 500 ppm CO2e milestone announcement has been found on any website in the world, including the UNFCCC website which has an ultimate objective to stabilize the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.  

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The NOAA Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI) measures the commitment society has already made to living in a changing climate. It is based on the highest quality atmospheric observations from sites around the world. Its uncertainty is very low.

NOAA summarizes:

  • The AGGI in 2019 was 1.45, which means that we’ve turned up the warming influence by 45% since 1990.
  • It took ~240 years for the AGGI to go from 0 to 1, i.e., to reach 100%, and 29 years for it to increase by another 45%.
  • In terms of CO2 equivalents, the atmosphere in 2019 contained 500 ppm, of which 410 is CO2 alone. The rest comes from other gases.
  • CO2 is by far the largest contributor to the AGGI in terms of both amount and rate of increase.
  • Note: The IPCC suggests that a constant concentration of CO2 alone at 550 ppm would lead to an average increase in Earth’s temperature of ~3°C (5.4°F).