Carbon Dioxide Concentration in the Earth’s Atmosphere Has Hit Levels Unseen for 3 Million Years

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere has reached levels not seen for 3 million years, scientists at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii said Monday – offering a dire warning about the impact of human activity on the planet.

The observatory’s sensors registered carbon dioxide levels of 415 parts per million (ppm) on Saturday, meaning CO2 made up 415 of ever 1 million molecules of gas in the atmosphere.

CO2 – which is emitted when we burn fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas – is a greenhouse gas which traps heat in the earth’s atmosphere, contributing to the global temperature increases which drives climate change.

The concentration of CO2 has been rising by an average of 2.5 ppm over the last decade. But the increase from 2018 to 2019 will likely be around 3ppm, Ralph Keeling, director of the Scripps C02 program which runs the Manua Loa Observatory, said in a statement.

“Every year it goes up like this we should be saying ‘No, this shouldn’t be happening. It’s not normal,” Keeling said. “This increase is just not sustainable in terms of energy use and in terms of what we are doing to the planet.”

This is the first time in human history that the concentration of the gas has topped 415 ppm, meteorologist Eric Holthaus warned on Twitter.

This is the first time in human history our planet’s atmosphere has had more than 415ppm CO2.

Not just in recorded history, not just since the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago. Since before modern humans existed millions of years ago.

We don’t know a planet like this.

— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) May 12, 2019

The last time the proportion of CO2 was this this high was during the Pliociene period between 5.3 and 2.6 million years ago. Back then, the Earth was a very different place, with a much warmer climate. Average sea levels are thought to have been around 50 ft higher than they are today and forests grew as far north as the Arctic, a professor of earth system science at Stanford University told NBC.

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Source:: Time – Science


The Moon Is Shrinking, and It’s Causing Powerful ‘Moonquakes’

The moon is getting smaller, which causes wrinkles in its surface and moonquakes, according to a new study.

As the moon’s interior cools, it shrinks, which causes its hard surface to crack and form fault lines, according to research sponsored by NASA. The moon has gotten about 150 feet skinnier over the last few hundred million years.

NASA posted a video on Twitter showing fault lines on the moon’s surface.

You’ve heard of earthquakes. But what about moonquakes? Like a wrinkled grape drying out to a raisin, the Moon is shrinking as its interior cools causing wrinkles or faults to form on its brittle surface. When enough stress builds, it releases the quakes:

— NASA (@NASA) May 13, 2019

Astronauts have placed seismometers on the moon over a series of past missions. Scientists, who determined that the moonquakes are close enough to the fault lines to establish causality, published their analysis in a study in Nature Geoscience on Monday, according to NASA. The space agency has also recorded evidence of fault lines in a series of images.

Read More: Jeff Bezos Is Promising the Moon — But There Are Plenty of Reasons to Doubt Him

“Our analysis gives the first evidence that these faults are still active and likely producing moonquakes today as the Moon continues to gradually cool and shrink,” said Thomas Watters, lead author of the study and senior scientist in the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, according to a press release on NASA’s website.

Watters says that the quakes can be strong, around a five on the Richter scale, according to the NASA statement.

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Source:: Time – Science


Google Celebrates Lucy Wills, Who Found a Simple Solution to Improve the Health of Pregnant Women Everywhere

The pioneering English hematologist Lucy Wills, whose research into women’s health during pregnancy changed the lives of millions around the globe, was celebrated in Friday’s Google Doodle.

Wills conducted research into prenatal macrocytic anaemia in India in the 1920s and 1930s, where pregnant textile workers in Bombay were suffering from the condition.

She hypothesized that the condition, which causes red blood cells to become enlarged and can be life-threatening, was related to the diets of those affected.

After feeding monkeys with the condition the popular yeasty breakfast spread Marmite, she observed that their symptoms alleviated. Later studies based on her research found that it is a lack of folic acid, which Marmite contains, that causes the condition.

Her work immediately benefited pregnant textile workers in Bombay, where she was based, and folic acid is now recommended for pregnant women everywhere.

“Remembered for her wry sense of humor, Wills enjoyed mountain climbing, cross-country skiing, and rode a bicycle to work rather than driving in a car,” Google wrote. “She devoted much of her life to traveling the world and working to ensure the health of mothers-to-be.”

She died in 1964; Friday marked 131 years since her birth.

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Source:: Time – Science