Recent Trends in Carbon Dioxide

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5.1.1.a
Global Trends in Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

In December 1997, at a meeting in Kyoto, Japan, Canada signed an agreement together with 160 nations to take action on climate change. The Kyoto Protocol is a global response to a global problem, an important step in plans to reduce the buildup of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Canada’s challenge under the Kyoto Protocol is to reduce our GHG emissions to 6 percent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. This requires a 25 percent drop in emissions from business-as-usual projections for 2002.

Figure 1. Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Concentrations (1750 to present)
Source: World Resources Institute website on graph.

Refer to Figure 1. The concentration units are in parts per million by volume.

ACTIVITY

1. What was the CO2 concentration in the year 1900?
2. How long does the CO2 concentration remain fairly constant?
3. When does the curve begin to turn sharply upward?
4. What does this indicate about the rate of CO2 production? Account for this change.
5. What is the highest measured value for CO2 concentration? What percentage increase does this represent above the average value for the last thousand years?
6. When did scientists start to measure CO2 concentration directly? What does this mean? Where on the planet is this data recorded?
7. What is the source of data before this time? How do you think CO2 concentration is measured this way?
8. Name the type of curve represented by this data.

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