Scientists Fear 'Runaway' Greenhouse Effect

An unprecedented leap in C02 levels over the past two years is leading some scientists to wonder if the Earth's atmosphere is losing its ability to absorb greenhouse gases.

Read Time: 1 minute

October 13, 2004, 12:00 PM PDT

By Michael Dudley


The Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii has been keeping continuous C02 readings for almost 50 years. Recorded increases in CO2 averaged 1.5 parts per million (ppm) a year in recent decades because of the amount of oil, coal and gas burnt; now however, it has jumped to more than 2 ppm in 2002 and 2003. As one advisor to Britain's former environment minister put it, "We're watching the clock and the clock is beginning to tick faster, like it seems to before a bomb goes off."

Thanks to Michael Dudley

Monday, October 11, 2004 in The Guardian Unlimited

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