Last April, NOAA researchers have determined the amount of CO2 – Carbon dioxode in the atmosphere close to 410 ppmv (i.e. parts per million of dry air) at Mauna Loa observatory, in Hawai. We may have skipped this information because of other burning and recent news such as the elections going-on in Europe. And yet, this is a huge revolution: this number settles a a new record of the very high level of of CO2 in our atmosphere. Such a level already happened on our planet, but never after human life appears…
All the researchers, through the whole world, have compiled enough knowledge to demonstrate the link between this increase of atmospheric CO2 amount, due to anthropogenic activities, and the consequences on our warming climate (see IPCC reports). Some of these impacts are already observed, even if we don’t pay attention every day: Antarctica and Greenland ice melting, average temperature increases, some notable changes in biodiversity, sea level rising… all of this is known, well documented, completely demonstrated. Most of the debate should be on focused on the practical ways to limit these consequences, not whether these data are true. That is the idea behind the COP21 climate agreement signed in Paris.
And yet, remarkably the following page is now visible on the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website:
The main reasons can be found on the next page https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-kicks-website-updates: “[…] the website for the United States Environmental Protection Agency, is undergoing changes that reflect the agency’s new direction under President Donald Trump and Administrator Scott Pruitt. The process, which involves updating language to reflect the approach of new leadership, is intended to ensure that the public can use the website to understand the agency’s current efforts. […] We want to eliminate confusion by removing outdated language first and making room to discuss how we’re protecting the environment and human health by partnering with states and working within the law. The first page to be updated is a page reflecting President Trump’s Executive Order on Energy Independence, which calls for a review of the so-called Clean Power Plan. Language associated with the Clean Power Plan, written by the last administration, is out of date. Similarly, content related to climate and regulation is also being reviewed.”
We may be tempted to give up and be desperate when governments do not acknowledge serious and long-term works achieved by our colleagues. But facts are facts. We may not like them, feel uncomfortable when receiving them and their messages, but they remain stubborn.
I personally admire our American fellow scientists who keep working on this subject, communicating to public though seminars and conferences, and provide with more and more observations to better understand our climate mechanisms. In particular, it is worth noticing that NOAA is an American institute, and the USA are the principal investigators (PI) of OCO-2, the first space-based measurements of atmospheric CO2 with the precision, resolution and coverage needed to characterize its sources and sinks and quantify their variability over the seasonal cycle (cf. David Crisp, JPL).
So let’s not give up! And continue our work as serious and extensively as possible. Society and public well deserve it.