An unexplained and unprecedented rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere two years running has raised fears that the world may be on the brink of runaway global warming. \nScientists are baffled why the quantity of the main greenhouse gas has leapt in a two-year period and are concerned that the Earth's natural systems are no longer able to absorb as much as in the past. \nThe findings will be discussed tomorrow by the government's chief scientist, David King, at the annual Greenpeace business lecture. \nMeasurements of CO2 in the atmosphere have been continuous for almost 50 years at Mauna Loa Observatory, 3,658m up a mountain in Hawaii, regarded as far enough away from any carbon dioxide source to be a reliable measuring point. \nIn recent decades CO2 increased on average by 1.5 parts per million (ppm) a year because of the amount of oil, coal and gas burnt, but has now jumped to more than 2 ppm in 2002 and last year. \nAbove or below average rises in CO2 levels in the atmosphere have been explained in the past by natural events. \nWhen the Pacific warms up during El Nino -- a disruptive weather pattern caused by weakening trade winds -- the amount of carbon dioxide rises dramatically because warm oceans emit CO2 rather than absorb it. \nBut scientists are puzzled because over the past two years, when the increases have been 2.08 ppm and 2.54 ppm respectively, there has been no El Nino. \nCharles Keeling, the man who began the observations in 1958 as a young climate scientist, is now 74 and still working in the field. \nHe said yesterday: "The rise in the annual rate to above two parts per million for two consecutive years is a real phenomenon." \n"It is possible that this is merely a reflection of natural events like previous peaks in the rate, but it is also possible that it is the beginning of a natural process unprecedented in the record," he said. \nAnalysts stress that it is too early to draw any long-term conclusions. \nBut the fear held by some scientists is that the greater than normal rises in C02 emissions mean that instead of decades to bring global warming under control we may have only a few years. At worst, the figures could be the first sign of the breakdown in the Earth's natural systems for absorbing the gas. That would herald the so-called "runaway greenhouse effect," where the planet's soaring temperature becomes impossible to contain. \nTom Burke, visiting professor at Imperial College London, and a former special adviser to the former Tory environment minister John Gummer, warned: "We're watching the clock and the clock is beginning to tick faster, like it seems to before a bomb goes off."
NASA scientists on Friday presented striking early images from the picture-perfect landing of the Mars rover Perseverance, including a selfie of the six-wheeled vehicle dangling just above the surface of the Red Planet moments before touchdown. The color photograph, likely to become an instant classic among memorable images from the history of spaceflight, was snapped by a camera mounted on the rocket-powered “sky crane” descent-stage just above the rover as the car-sized space vehicle was being lowered on Thursday to Martian soil. The image was unveiled by mission managers during an online news briefing Webcast from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near
A rogue overgrown sheep found roaming through regional Australia has been shorn of his 35kg fleece — a weight even greater than that of the famous New Zealand sheep Shrek, who was captured in 2005 after six years on the loose. The merino ram, dubbed Baarack by rescuers, was discovered wandering alone with an extraordinarily overgrown wool coat, and was promptly shorn to save his life. Kyle Behrend, from the Edgar’s Mission farm sanctuary, said that it appeared Baarack was “once an owned sheep” who had escaped. Merino sheep do not shed their fleece and need to be shorn at least annually, as
Three years after a deadly virus struck India’s endangered Asiatic lions in their last remaining natural habitat, conservationists are hunting for new homes to help booming prides roam free. The majestic big cats, slightly smaller than their African cousins and with a fold of skin along their bellies, were once found widely across southwest Asia. Hunting and human encroachment saw the population plunge to just 20 by 1913, and the lions are now found only in a wildlife sanctuary in India’s western Gujarat State. Following years of concerted government efforts, the lion population in Gir National Park has swelled to nearly 700, according
DMZ SWIM: Over more than three hours, South Korean surveillance cameras caught him eight times and audible alarms sounded twice, but border guards did not notice A North Korean defector wore a diving suit and fins during a daring six-hour swim around one of the world’s most fortified borders and was only caught after apparently falling asleep, a Seoul official said. South Korean forces did not spot the man’s audacious exploit, despite his appearance several times on surveillance cameras after he landed and triggered alarms, drawing heavy criticism from media and opposition lawmakers. Even after his presence was noticed, the man — who used diving gear to make his way by sea around the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides the Korean Peninsula — was not caught for another