Carbon dioxide is the greenhouse gas that is responsible for global warming which is the root cause of many of our ills. The amount of CO2 present in the atmosphere is monitored regularly at Hawaii's Mauna Loa Observatory and the latest figure is a matter of concern. It has gone beyond 410 parts per million (ppm) for the month of April.

CNN reports that this is the highest concentration of the greenhouse gas ever recorded at the observatory, where records have been kept for more than half a century. In the opinion of Ralph Keeling, head of the Scripps CO2 program, if this is not checked, the figure could reach alarming levels in a couple of decades.

Effects of greenhouse gas

When fossil fuels like coal, petrol, and diesel burn, they produce greenhouse gas which, in turn, leads to global warming. One of the effects is the drying up of groundwater followed by drought with fears of wildfires. These destroy the green cover and leave large stretches of land dry and barren. Trees help to bind the soil and once they are lost to fires, the soil is washed away due to rains giving rise to mudslides and loss of lives and properties.

Another effect of global warming is a rise in sea level due to the melting of icebergs from the polar regions. This rise has a direct effect on coastal areas and could have serious implications unless efforts are taken to reduce the generation of the greenhouse gas.

Way back in 1958, the Mauna Loa Observatory started maintaining a record of the CO2 levels which, at that time, was 315 ppm. Today, it has gone up to 410 ppm and in another two decades, it could reach 500 ppm, which will be a serious situation.

Actions to be taken

The Paris Climate Accord of 2015 has laid down guidelines of how best to bring down the global average temperature and arrest global warming.

The time has come for fossil fuels to make way for alternate sources of clean energy like electricity or solar power. Many countries have decided to ban fossil fuel powered vehicles from a certain date while solar or wind-powered generators are taking over from diesel generators. Solar energy is used extensively in space programs and has been adopted in many places on Earth.

Actions of this nature will reduce the generation of greenhouse gas and save the environment. The decision to ban fossil fuels might not be welcome by a section of people who depend on them for livelihood. However, in the larger interest of society, they have to make the sacrifice because they also will have to face the consequences of global warming.