Greenhouse gas concentrations have hit a record high in 2021. In particular, global methane emissions, which have more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide, have risen at the fastest rate recorded.
The Korea Meteorological Administration revealed the World Meteorological Organization’s “Global Greenhouse Gas Bulletin,” which showed that the average carbon dioxide levels in 2021 rose by 2.5ppm to 415.7ppm, a record high since records began in 1983. The nitrogen dioxide levels also increased by 1.3ppb from the previous year to 334.5ppb, hitting a record high.
The methane levels also reached a new record high, marking the most significant year-on-year jump to 18ppb, which is higher than last year’s 15ppb, hovering way above an average increase in the past 10 years of 9.2ppb. Methane is 28 times as potent as carbon dioxide at warming the Earth. WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas said in the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin that the record acceleration in methane levels shows that we are heading in the wrong direction.
The continuing rise in methane concentrations is attributable to the vicious cycle created by global warming. As the Earth gets warmer because of greenhouse gas emissions by human activities, methane emissions from tropical rainforests have increased. Methane, however, is short-lived in the atmosphere, persisting for about 10 years. The Bulletin explained that methane emissions could be reduced if humans actively pursue its efforts to eliminate the artificial sources of methane emissions.
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