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Greenhouse Gas Levels Touch Record High, UN Report

Update Date: Nov 11, 2015 12:35 PM EST
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Beware---the human race may not be able to live on the planet some day in the future.

Last year, the greenhouse gases in the earth touched a record high, much more than the "symbolic threshold of 400 parts per million" throughout the world, the United Nations' World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned in a report  released Monday. The planet may just not be hospitable some day.

"We are moving into uncharted territory at a frightening speed," WMO Secretary General Michel Jarraud said. "Every year we say that time is running out. We have to act now to slash greenhouse gas emissions if we are to have a chance to keep the increase in temperatures to manageable levels."

The deadliest of all greenhouse gases is carbon dioxide, which has a long life cycle. It has risen continuously towards the 400 parts per million (ppm) level since the records stared in 1984. Every year it has been touching a new record, according to The Washington Post.

These concentrations had come upto 397.7 ppm in 2014, and in the northern hemisphere, they "crossed the symbolically significant 400 ppm level in 2014 spring, when CO2 is most abundant," the report said. "In spring 2015, the global average concentration of CO2 crossed the 400 ppm barrier."

The threshold of 400 ppm concentration level was reached millions of year ago. Jarraud said the rising point "means hotter global temperatures, more extreme weather events like heatwaves and floods, melting ice, rising sea levels and increased acidity of the oceans."

The gas has its uses, of course. It is important for plant life, and acts as an "insulating blanket", capturing the solar heat that can keep the planet warm.

"Excess energy trapped by CO2 and other greenhouse gases is heating up the Earth surface which leads to increase in atmospheric water vapor which in turn is generating [and] trapping even more heat," Jarraud said, noting that carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere and the oceans for years.

The report has been released three weeks before 190 countries meet in Paris for negotiations that can make them all sign a treaty to reduce emissions.

The two nations that emit more greenhouse gases than any other country are the United States and China, so these two will be looked at as leaders of the efforts.

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