When CO2 Levels Were Dangerously Low

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By Paul Homewood

The CO2 Coalition is a useful source for facts about carbon dioxide, such as this:


During each of the last four glacial advances, CO2 concentration fell below 190 ppm. At the end of the last glacial advance, it fell to 182 ppm, thought to be the lowest in the Earth’s history. Why is this alarming? Because below 150 ppm, most terrestrial plant life cannot exist.

We came within about 30 ppm (30 molecules out of every one million) to the extinction of most plant life on land, and with it the extinction of all higher terrestrial life-forms that depend on it. Bear in mind that, before we began adding CO2 to the atmosphere, we weren’t sure that we wouldn’t cross that critical 150-ppm threshold during the next glacial period.

Please note that many people confuse the glacial advance with “ice age.” The current ice age we are still in began about 2.4 million years ago. The planet altered between very cold periods known as glacials and warm periods called interglacials. We are thankfully in the tail end of interglacial warm trend.