The most important news story of the last few weeks received far less attention than the overblown Benghazi and IRS scandals. The amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere has reached 400 parts per million, the most in thousands of years. The New York Times placed the story on its front page's lead position, with a double column headline, but I didn't see any other news organization even mention that the earth-threatening carbon threshold had been crossed.
Esteemed science writer Elizabeth Kolbert, one of the most knowledgeable and sobering reporters on climate change, cites in a piece in this week's New Yorker the alarming carbon dioxide reading. She ties the constant spewing of CO2 into the atmosphere with efforts to build the XL pipeline from Canada through the United States.
Extracting the oil substance from Canadian tar sands requires huge carbon releases, she reports, and calls upon President Obama to not approve the pipeline. While extracting the tar sand oil will continue no matter what decision Obama makes, with no letup in CO2 releases, Kolbert says that Obama if he rejects the pipeline will make a significant stand against the carbonization of our air and its threat to life on Earth.
Kolbert's piece clearly shows the simple arithmetic of carbon use. Every ounce of petroleum extracted from the ground is converted into an equal amount of carbon sent into the atmosphere. Every auto trip, every airplane ride, every coal-fired generator is part of the equation.