Amount of carbon dioxide in air keeps rising, hits milestone

Power Rule Deaths
FILE - In this Tuesday Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, a plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. The Obama Administration’s hotly debated plan to cut the amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide coming out of the nation’s power plants will save about 3,500 lives a year from also reducing other types of pollutions, a new independent study concludes. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal scientists said global levels of the most prevalent heat-trapping gas have passed a daunting milestone.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says in March, the global monthly average for carbon dioxide hit 400.83 parts per million. That is the first month in modern records that the entire globe broke 400 ppm, reaching levels that haven’t been seen in about 2 million years.

Pushed by the burning of fossil fuels, global carbon dioxide is 18 percent higher than it was in 1980, when NOAA first calculated a worldwide average. Monthly levels fluctuate with the season, but are increasing on a year-to-year basis.

NOAA chief greenhouse gas scientist Pieter Tans said carbon dioxide is increasing at a record pace, 100 times faster than natural rises in the past.

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