Ice Cores Reveal CO2 Highest for 800,000 Years

ice meltingScientists at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge carrying out a study on the oldest Antarctic ice core [search] have found that the rapid rise in greenhouse gases over the past century is unprecedented in at least 800,000 years [more | more2]. During the period 8 cycles of high carbon dioxide and methane coincided closely with relatively high temperatures associated with warm, inter-glacial periods. It is noted the “rate of change is probably the most scary thing”.

“The core shows that carbon dioxide was always between 180 parts per million (ppm) and 300 ppm during the 800,000 years. However, now it is 380 ppm. Methane was never higher than 750 parts per billion (ppb) in this timescale, but now it stands at 1,780 ppb… increases in carbon dioxide never exceeding 30 ppm in 1,000 years — and yet now carbon dioxide has risen by 30 ppm in the last 17 years.”

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8 Responses

  1. Anthony says:

    Human Beings have created huge amounts of co2 in the atmosphere so rapidly that the heat increase is lagging behind ,but not very much!
    Tipping points are now happening; 1. Gaia's reflective shield of snow and ice is shrinking :the ice caps,and the greenland ice shelf are quickly melting.2.Permafrost is thawing releasing green house gasses.3.Scientists are worried that the amazon forest another cooling air conditioner of our planet will dry out and disappear.
    A positive feed back process is happening.
    yet to the ordinary layperson this is incomprehensible: there have always been anomalies in the climate,like the medieval cold snap,but life goes on ! Even though the scientists say we're in deep trouble here most of us cannot grasp it similar to been shown the answer to what's gravity in maths terms but not been trained to think this way it's still meaningless to us.
    This reminds me of the George Monbiot article “Sleepwalking to extinction” In this he says rather like the aborigines of Australia once did we live in our own Dreamworld in which we cannot envision the past and present really changing at all in the future:We are in the main creatures of this dreamworld only a few such as scientists have learned to step outside this social reality apply reason and make logical conclusions.
    James Lovelock has asserted that the positive feedback process is the danger pushing us irreversibly past tipping points leading to incresing rate of heat trapment.
    Still my own dreamworld says, surely this is science fiction horror we are all going to wake up and find it's just a plot!
    I hope I am right! And those darned scientists have got it wrong!

  2. Azuli says:

    This is all fine and dandy but how did they arrive at those figures? All these little 'scientific reports' tout many numbers but very little evidence to back up those numbers.
    No one was around 800,000 years ago and any assertion that Co2 levels were at a certain level is, at best, a guess.
    Reply: Do a search on “climate ice cores” on this portal. I shows how bubbles of ice were caught through the ages in the ice, and are analyzed to see what the atmosphere was like then.

  3. Margaret says:

    Sadly, not a sci-fi fantasy, and this is not the only bad news. Arriving at the 'tipping point' in terms of climate change is coinciding with the end of the oil era. There is a growing consensus that we have already reached peak oil or will within the next few years. The end of the fossil fuel-based industrial revolution, which means what supports our entire way of life — including things like how we get our food, water, and energy for cooling and heating — will bring about widespread social, economic, and political collapse (especially if we remain in denial and are not proactive in preparing ourselves).
    In other words, we won't have the energy to deal with some of the more severe impacts of global warming (more accurately termed 'the new hot age').
    We are in for a very rough ride indeed.
    Spirituality and Ecological Hope

  4. ewoc says:

    Azuli's post illustrates precisely one of the central problems we face in dealing with climate change – the public's general lack of understanding of science, and the ease with which this lack of understanding of basic concepts of science can be manipulated by those with the resources to hire PR firms to cast doubt on legitimate science to, for example, benefit the fossil fuel and related industries.
    Accepting his standards for interpreting scientific knowledge would mean that most or all of what we have learned from the study of species evolution and ancient human cultures would be tossed out the window, since “no one” was “alive” who directly recorded the various Ice Ages, ancient civilizations such as the Maya, etc etc, nor were any humans alive during the eras preceding the rise of homo sapiens, when dinosaurs and many other plant and animal species evolved. The search for truth we call science proceeds regardless of public ignorance.
    Anyone with slightly more than a basic level of education can access the results of recent science on climate change (such as ice core studies) without too much trouble, provided they are willing to accept the data and not remain sceptical, based on a superficial suspicion of the media that in many cases blocks the search for truth. Let's hope this situation changes in the very near future.

  5. robert martin says:

    just seen the movie 'inconvenent truth' i have had an understanding of globle warming for two decades believing that it is happenning. but after watching this movies i am now grasping how seriously we need to take this problem. i thought i wouldnt need to tackle this problem personally as it is all happenning to slowly. sadly i think i was wrong and i pray we all start changing our attitudes now or we will all be done for.

  6. anthony says:

    If I may add to the first comment?! All of us if we know it or not love the Earth. When we are children we learn to expect the warmth of dawn and the song of birds and to live off the plenty of mother Earth even though our biological mother,who could not be without Earth ,is right beside us.Therefore as Thomas Bery has said the Earth has its own dreaming or rather Gaia has and we are privileged to share in that dreaming.
    Even in the hardest times of ice ages man has known life was worth living because of this shared dreaming with the planet.Gaia gave him heroism, drama and even if a coward he had dignity as a sentient being aware of Gaia who had given him life! He knew he was someone! The dreaming of Mother Earth has made life worthwhile,we share her dreaming no matter how far we stray!

  7. stephen says:

    People need to stop living in a dream world and take responsibility for their own actions. No longer is the excuse, 'I didn't know' acceptable. If everyone from the smallest householder to the head of big businesses were to reduce their emissions/energy consumption by at least 20% we could go somewhere to avoiding catastrophic climate change.

  8. Tim Sherlock says:

    I must admit that I have not done what I could have or even kept up enough on the information available to be able to make very much of a contribution to help solve what seems the major problem people the world over face today–what to do to about global warming and climate change. With our growing understanding of the real danger we face, including the recent antarctic ice core studies that tell so dramatically of the position we are in, it seems, everyone including those who set national policy should be driven to take action on an epic scale to help combat this global threat. It seems, though, a majority of the people of this planet, including those of us in the U. S, are horribly unaware of the enormity of this crisis or for whatever reason refuse to see it.

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