Grab the kids in your life, and bring them along as you accompany Climate Mama on her journey to the top of a still active volcano, Mauna Loa, on the Big Island of Hawaii. Ask them to guess what THE premier spot in the WORLD for collecting and measuring carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is. If they guess Mauna Loa, they would be right!
Scientists can show us that the level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere never rose above 280 parts per million (ppm) over the past 800,000 years, (or more accurately the CO2 level oscillated between 180 and 280 ppm every 100,000 years “give or take”….these dips are the ice ages!) Things start changing however in last 150 years…! This is when humans started burning fossil fuels, the main source for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere – oil, gas and coal, that most of us use every day to power our homes, factories, places of business and our vehicles. On the day Climate Mama visited the Mauna Loa Observatory, the reading for CO2 in our atmosphere was 392.14 ppm.
Scientists tell as that we are on track to reach 450 ppm (or more!) by mid century if we keep burning fossil fuels and increasing greenhouse gases, “business as usual.” These levels of CO2 would raise the earth’s temperature beyond safe levels. “Human created” CO2 and other greenhouse gases contribute to making our atmosphere “thicker” then it otherwise would be, as greenhouse gases “trap” heat. It’s kind of like “putting a blanket” around our planet and keeping the heat close rather then letting it radiate back out to space!
In fact, scientists tell us we need to go back to 350 ppm if we hope to maintain the earth’s climate in a stable and balanced state. Changes in climate caused by the increase of human caused greenhouse gases like C02 in our atmosphere have all ready and will continue to trigger things like: changes in the growing season, sea level rise, invasive species, melting glaciers, and extreme weather events like droughts and strong, powerful and intense rain and snow storms, to name a few…What we do NOW, the policies we create and the changes we make in the way we live our lives and create and use energy, will determine our children’s future and our own future!
We hope you enjoy our home movies or in this case “slide show” of Climate Mama’s trip to the Mauna Loa Observatory, where daily measurements on the level of Carbon Dioxide, have been recorded since 1957. Our “tour guide” was Dr. John Barnes, Station Chief at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Mauna Loa Observatory. A big “shout out and Mahalo” to Dr. Barnes, for helping us learn so much!
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Let us know what you and the kids in your life think of our trip up to the top of the Volcano in our search to bring you the truth and reality behind climate change. We would love to hear from you!
P.S. All photo credits in our slide show are attributable to: A. Jennis.
Music credit: “Beds are Burning” by Various Artists, Tck Tck Tck campaign, created for COP 15: UN Climate Change Conference, Copenhagen 2009. Voice at beginning of song: Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations.