Top: Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels as measured in the atmosphere and reflected in ice cores. Bottom: The amount of net carbon increase in the atmosphere, compared to carbon emissions fr… – CC

The amount of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere peaked at 419 ppm in May, and is the highest in more than four million years, as reported by scientists at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography on Monday.

“It’s rising as fast as ever. Fossil fuel burning is the center of the problem. It’s what’s driving C02 up and is the major cause of climate change,” said Ralph Keeling, a geochemist at Scripps who took over the measurement series known as the Keeling Curve, after his father’s death in 2005.

The May measurements were the monthly average of atmospheric data obtained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at an observatory at Mauna Loa Volcano in Hawaii.

Scripps scientist Charles David Keeling started the on-site measurements in 1958, while NOAA established parallel recordkeeping in 1974.

Keeling, 64, said he hopes to see his father’s curve start to flatten within his lifetime. “I’m hopeful we’ll see slower growth over the next decade. That’s what I think can realistically happen, and once we see that, we can say, ‘Yeah, we can control this thing,'” he said.

Scripps Health

Scripps Health is a nonprofit health care system based in San Diego, California. The system includes five hospitals and 19 outpatient facilities, and treats a half-million patients annually through 2, (wikipedia)

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Scripps Institution of Oceanography

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California, founded in 1903, is one of the oldest and largest centers for ocean and Earth science research, public service, (wikipedia)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is an American scientific agency within the United States Department of Commerce that focuses on the conditions of the oceans, major waterways, (wikipedia)

NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, known informally as the NOAA Corps, is one of eight federal uniformed services of the United States, (wikipedia)