CO2 levels are at an all-time high — again

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Ship exhaust
06 June 2021, Schleswig-Holstein, Travemünde: A ferry emits exhaust fumes from a smokestack. | Photo by Daniel Reinhardt/picture alliance via Getty Images

Not even a global pandemic could stop carbon dioxide concentrations from spiking. They reached historic levels yet again in May 2021, the month that scientists compare CO2 concentrations from year to year.

Planet heating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere averaged 419 parts per million this May, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). That pileup of CO2 is comparable to where it was a little over four million years ago, when the average global temperature was about 7 degrees Fahrenheit hotter and sea levels were a whopping 78 feet higher than they are today.

Without much more drastic action, scientists warn, CO2 levels will keep trending upward — which also brings the world closer to more inhospitable...

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