CO2 levels hit historic high sounding new climate change alarm

PARIS Scientists in the US have detected the highest levels of planet-warming carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere since records began, sounding new alarm over the relentless rise of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

The Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, which has tracked atmospheric CO2 levels since the late 1950s, on Saturday morning detected 415.26 parts per million (ppm).

The last time Earth's atmosphere contained this much CO2 was more than three million years ago, when global sea levels were several metres higher and parts of the Antarctica were blanketed in forest.

Far from stabilising, levels of CO2 - one of a trinity of greenhouse gases produced when fossil fuels are burnt - are climbing more rapidly.

Mr Ralph Keeling, director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography's CO2 Programme, said the trend would probably continue throughout this year - likely to be an El Nino year in which temperatures rise due to warmer ocean currents.

Earth's average surface temperature has already increased 1 deg C since pre-industrial times due to man-made emissions.

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