Tomorrow is Earth Day, April 22, 2021. Climate change is my mind.
The Earth’s carbon dioxide (CO2) levels peak around this time of year because there’s more landmass in the northern hemisphere and plants start their seasonal growing season. During their growing cycle, plants draw down CO2, and during the winter many give it up.
According to the Keeling Curve, we hit 420 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere in April, and the world has warmed by more than two degrees. The Keeling Curve is a daily record of atmospheric CO2 from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, and the readings are taken at Mauna Loa, Hawaii. Mauna Loa is thought to be the most pristine place to take such readings away from major cities and CO2 polluters.
What does hitting 417.40ppm of CO2 mean?
It means that the greenhouse-gas effect caused by the heat trapped in our atmosphere because of CO2 concentrations has reached a level higher than the Pliocene era, and we’re reaching for the Miocene era between 14 and 23 million years ago. Those were times when sea levels were much higher than they are now and the Earth’s surface changes were being caused by planetary-orbital cycles rather than trapped CO2. That in itself should tell us there is no excuse for these high levels of CO2 but from the actions of humans.
As the planet warms from the trapped CO2, we’re already seeing sea-level changes, plants and wildlife moving north, and severe weather becoming the rule instead of the exception. It alludes me how much humans have altered the composition of the atmosphere and increased the amount of gas that is warming the climate. Certainly, in the long run, this will have to affect our ecosystems, our food supply, and our living conditions.
What can we do about it?
The world’s most important carbon sinks are our forests and our prairies. As we all know, our forests and what remains of our prairies are being ravaged continuously to enhance development, so we can’t count on them to pull CO2 out of the air and store it safely in the soil. And the small percentage of forests and land protected by conservancy measures can’t make up for this loss either.
So it’s up to us as individuals, neighbors, and others to make up for it by the way we garden and landscape. Commit today to garden and landscape using native plants with deep taproots, with CO2 absorption in mind, and work toward creating neighborhood carbon sinks to help do our part.