The Keeling Curve shows that there is currently 406 parts per million (ppm) of atmospheric carbon dioxide at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory. The highest concentration over the last year was a little above 410 ppm. It was around 340 ppm when I was born.
It’s believed that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration has not been this high for 3-20 million years. Below is the view for the last 800,000 years. Compare the slope of the last few decades to the rest of the record.
Keeling Curve credits: Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.
Random: how much CO2 is a ppm? It’s around 7.8 gigatons of CO2.
Net CO2 emissions are around forty gigatons per year right now. That averages to a little more than 2.5 million pounds per second. It’s hard to imagine how much this is, so let’s think about it in terms of Saturn V rockets. The Saturn V was the largest rocket ever launched and was used to send humans to the moon. A fueled Saturn V weighed 6,540,000 pounds, which is 3,270 tons. Thus, 40 gigatons is around 12.2 million Saturn Vs of mass. We are adding 12.2 million Saturn V rockets of CO2 mass per year to the atmosphere.