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May 10 2013

Carbon dioxide passes symbolic mark

Daily measurements of CO2 at the authoritative "Keeling lab" on Hawaii have topped 400 parts per million for the first time. The station, which sits atop the Mauna Loa volcano, has the longest continuous measure of the concentration of the gas, stretching back to 1958.

The last time CO2 was regularly above 400ppm was about 3-5 million years ago - before modern humans existed. The climate back then was also considerably warmer than it is today, according to scientists.

Carbon dioxide is regarded as the most important of the manmade greenhouse gases, a product principally of burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.

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