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Carbon, re-engineered - five genius engineering tricks cutting emissions

May 14, 2019 / Padraig Belton

Far above the Pacific Ocean on the north flank of a Hawaiian volcano, the Mauna Loa Observatory started collecting data on atmospheric carbon dioxide in 1958. Then it was recorded as 315 parts per million (ppm), already higher than the 280ppm global average for the time before the Industrial Revolution. On 9 May 2013, the daily average measured at Mauna Loa rose above 400ppm for the first time on record. The year 2017 saw a new high of 405ppm. Then, in 2018, more carbon was emitted into the atmosphere than ever before, thanks in part to a 4.7% rise in China, 2.5% increase in the US and 6.3% in India. The total figure was 37.1bn tonnes, 2.7% more than in 2017.
The 185 countries that have ratified the 2015 Paris climate-change agreement have committed to try to limit global warming to 1.5ºC above pre-Industrial Revolution levels. We are already at around 1ºC. The difference between 1.5º and 2ºC would be a planet with coral reefs and summer Arctic sea ice, and one without.