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Letter: Same thinking can't solve age-old problems

To The Editor:

In my May 27th opinion column published on, I referred to a record monthly average CO2 level being reached in Earth’s atmosphere in April.

I would like to inform your readers that carbon dioxide levels measured at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory exceeded 411 parts per million (ppm) in May, a new high monthly average.

Primarily driven by fossil fuel combustion, increasing carbon dioxide levels are tracked closely by the world’s scientists as a measure of how human activity is changing the planet’s atmosphere.

This year, the average for May peaked at 411.31 ppm, according to scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“Many of us had hoped to see the rise of CO2 slowing by now, but sadly that isn’t the case,” said Ralph Keeling, director of the Scripps CO2 Program. “It could still happen in the next decade or so if renewables replace enough fossil fuels.”

Analysis of NOAA measurements show the growth rate of CO2 in the atmosphere is accelerating. It averaged about 1.6 ppm per year in the 1980s and 1.5 ppm per year in the 1990s, but increased to 2.2 ppm per year during the last decade.

From 2016 to 2017, the global CO2 average increased by 2.3 ppm – the sixth consecutive year-over-year increase greater than 2 ppm.

“CO2 levels are continuing to grow at an all-time record rate because emissions from coal, oil, and natural gas are also at record high levels,” said Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network.

Emissions from fossil-fuel consumption have remained at historically high levels since 2011 and are the primary reason atmospheric CO2 levels are increasing at a dramatic rate, Tans said.

This leads me to wonder why my federal government has purchased a pipeline and has committed to expanding that pipeline when that will only increase demand for fossil fuels and thereby further increase CO2 levels.

As Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Michael Jessen, Longbeach, BC