CO2 Now


What the world needs to watch

Global warming is mainly the result of CO2 levels rising in the Earth’s atmosphere. Both atmospheric CO2 and climate change are accelerating. Climate scientists say we have years, not decades, to stabilize CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

To help the world succeed, makes it easy to see the most current CO2 level and what it means. So, use this site and keep an eye on CO2.  Invite others to do the same. Then we can do more to send CO2 in the right direction.

Watch CO2 now and know the score on global warming, practically in real time.

Future CO2
Stabilizing Climate requires Near-Zero Emissions PDF Print E-mail


Reposted from ScienceDaily (Feb. 18, 2008)   Now that scientists have reached a consensus that carbon dioxide emissions from human activities are the major cause of global warming, the next question is: How can we stop it? Can we just cut back on carbon, or do we need to go cold turkey? According to a new study by scientists at the Carnegie Institution, halfway measures won’t do the job. To stabilize our planet’s climate, we need to find ways to kick the carbon habit altogether.

In the study, to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, climate scientists Ken Caldeira and Damon Matthews used an Earth system model at the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology to simulate the response of the Earth’s climate to different levels of carbon dioxide emission over the next 500 years. The model, a sophisticated computer program developed at the University of Victoria, Canada, takes into account the flow of heat between the atmosphere and oceans, as well as other factors such as the uptake of carbon dioxide by land vegetation, in its calculations.

Atmospheric CO2 Projections PDF Print E-mail

Where is atmospheric CO2 and global temperature headed?  Without equivocation, median projections show that key trajectories for climate system disruption are pointed in a dangerous direction. 

Carbon Targets for Humanity PDF Print E-mail

CO2 Targets

This article is about humanity’s three great carbon crises: global warming, climate change and ocean acidification.  It identifies a concrete, directional target for atmospheric CO2 that can end the carbon crises, along with concrete carbon emissions targets for getting us there.   These targets are presented in the context of the limited time for reaching the targets.  Readers are encouraged to use the links that are embedded in this article.   

Earth is becoming a tougher place to thrive and survive.  The planet’s self-regulating systems are being altered.  With a less stable environment, Earth is losing many living species and its ability to supply the world economy with basic goods and services.

The main driver behind these changes is carbon emissions.  Mostly they are produced as humans burn fossil fuel  for energy.   Carbon emissions have been high enough to boost  the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere to present day levels of roughly 390 parts per million.  This is about 30% higher than atmospheric CO2 levels for at least 800,000 years  before the industrial revolution.   

Irreversible Climate Change PDF Print E-mail


Lecture to a Meeting of the Royal Society of the Arts by Clive Hamilton
Is It Too Late to Prevent Catastrophic Climate Change?"
Sydney, Australia
21 October 2009 

In sum, the most important assumptions on which international negotiations and national policies are founded—that we can stabilise the climate at some level, that overshooting and returning to a lower target is feasible, and that we can accommodate 2 or more degrees of warming by adapting to it—have no foundation in the way the Earth’s climate system actually behaves. When one understands these facts, the state of political debate around the world takes on an air of unreality. Rich country policies—including cutting emissions by a few per cent and outsourcing most of the cuts to developing countries; waiting for carbon capture and storage technology to save the coal industry and continuing to pollute at high levels until that happens; planning the construction of new coal-fired power plants; and even, in Australia, entertaining the idea of exporting brown coal—are so at odds with the scale and urgency of the emission cuts demanded by the science as to be almost laughable.  They reflect a child-like belief that climate change can be averted by ignoring the truth and hoping for the best, a form of wishful thinking whose costs will prove incalculable. 

~ Clive Hamilton



NOAA  |  New Study Shows Climate Change Largely Irreversible 



How to Actually Solve Global Warming PDF Print E-mail

How to actually solve global warming

By Michael McGee
Started  |  October 26, 2008
Last update  |  November 6, 2008

Just more than 12 months ago, I started to pay attention to the changing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.  The latest data is reported monthly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration based on measurements made at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.  This led to the launch of a website that focuses on atmospheric CO2. The curiosity spread from CO2 to questions about the mechanics of the global warming problem and the chief plans, policies and solutions that humanity is pursuing. 

In very broadest strokes, here is what I have learned through work that led to the creation of  The problems and challenges facing humanity in 2008 are vastly greater than I had previously imagined.   At the same time, immense potential exists for humanity to actually tackle these problems.  

Of greatest concern, I have yet to find a plan that looks like a plan that is capable of turning the tide on global warming and climate change.  In response, I have found myself thinking a lot about the science behind these problems and what steps are essential to solving them.  This short essay is an evolving, think-out-loud-essay-as-things-get-figured-out.   In Spring 2008, there were two essential steps.  By summer, there were four.  Now, that number has grown to eight, each one in a particular sequence.  The key is solving these problems seems unachievable without all eight.   The conversation may be patchy and incomplete, but it will actually help to forge ahead with an unfinished product.  Feel free to join this figuring-it-out conversation and help this move along.     


1. Face Atmospheric Reality

The heart of the global warming crisis is the continuing increases in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.   Direct measurements of the Earth’s atmosphere from the Mauna Loa Observatory tells us that atmospheric CO2 was 383.09 parts per million in September 2008, and that the rate of increase this decade is accelerating.    In contrast, the key to solving the global warming crisis is the future decline of atmospheric concentrations of the most abundant greenhouse gas released by human activities: CO2.   A basic level of carbon literacy is needed, and this information is something that needs to be made visible and recognizable far and wide. 

2. We need a science-based target for safe levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. 

I know of a single scientific report that tells us what level of atmospheric CO2 is safe.  The report is based on paleoclimate data and findings published in April 2008 by ten scientists led by James Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.   What level of atmospheric CO2 is safe?  The upper ceiling is 350 parts per million.  Directionally, we need to transform the rise of atmospheric CO2 into a decline back to levels not seen since 1987.  At another level, we need to move our aim from targets based on policy to targets based on what science says is safe.  That uncontested target for safe CO2 is 350 ppm. 

3. We need to see the effort to get to Safe CO2 as universally urgent

The world has been on the dangerous side of 350 for more than two decades.   The higher that CO2 levels rise in the atmosphere, and the longer that concentrations stay elevated in the danger zone, the greater the harm to the planet and the human community.  [See the Hansen report for details.]  The main human-caused greenhouse gas, CO2 is rising and accelerating in terms of emissions and atmospheric levels.  The world needs a plan right now that can get us to 350 as fast as absolutely practical, and we need a successful execution of that plan.

4. We need a milestone target for Peak CO  

Atmospheric concentrations are accelerating upward when they need to be declining.  Before atmospheric CO2 can begin its decent on the road to safe concentrations, the rising concentrations must be brought to a peak.  That is the first major milestone target that must be achieved collectively by the people of the world.   To reflect the urgency of hitting this target, “Peak CO2” is a target to be achieved within a particular timeframe.   The timeframe that is adopted needs to be as soon as absolutely practical.

5. We need to rewire the world economy with alternative energy and get our emissions as close to zero as possible  

To get atmospheric CO2 to stop rising, the scientists tell us that global emissions need to be cut by at least 50%.  To get atmospheric CO2 to begin a decline back to the safe side of 350 ppm as soon as absolutely practical, global emissions need to be reduced so low they are close to zero.  We need to let go of the high carbon present and move swiftly and directly to the inevitable future where emissions are so low they are practically zero.  As long as we continue to burn fossil fuels in our daily lives or our places of employment, the causes of the global warming crisis will be alive and well.  As long as we are using our local and distant lands in ways that add emissions to the atmosphere, rather than absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, we will know that we are probably not yet doing enough. 

6. Unleash human ingenuity everywhere

Solve global warming and climate change?  This is not a job for superman.  This is not a job for one institution or one country.  This is not something to be done by someone else in some other place.  This is a mission for as many of the 6.5 billion humans on earth who are prepared to accept it.   A carbon-literate population can achieve results that would seem impossible today when they are given clear targets, policy and financial support, access to appropriate technology and objective progress reports.  People had the ingenuity to build this world and economy on a fossil fuel platform.  They have even more untapped ingenuity that can be used to reinvent and rewire the global economy for sustainable prosperity on a clean and safe platform. 

7. Prepare for some of earth’s biggest parties

Solving the global warming crisis requires an unprecedented level of cooperation, coordination and cognition.  As the efforts achieve results along the road toward 350 ppm, there will be reason for a planet-wide, human celebration that is bigger than any celebration in history. 

8. Repeat for the other greenhouse gases

Rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere is responsible for more global warming than the rise of all the other greenhouse gases combined.  The global warming crisis cannot be cracked or solved without a focus on CO2.   The singular focus on CO2 does not imply that other greenhouse gases from human activities can be ignored.   What works for CO2 will apply roughly for methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and the other greenhouses gases. 


Please keep in mind that this is just the beginning of this  conversation, this search for a plan with a high likelihood of providing great benefits for the planet and humanity, today and into the future.  For now, send your thoughts and comments to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it