The amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere has exceeded 402 parts per million (ppm) during the past two days of observations, which is higher than at any time in at least the past 800,000 years, according to readings from monitoring equipment on a mountaintop in Hawaii. Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is the most important long-lived greenhouse gas responsible for manmade global warming, and it is building up in the atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas.
Once emitted, a single molecule of carbon dioxide can remain aloft for hundreds of years, which means that the effects of today's industrial activities will be felt for the next several centuries, if not thousands of years. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, such as methane, warm the planet by absorbing and redirecting outgoing solar radiation that would otherwise escape back into space.
In 2013, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide briefly hit 400 ppm for the first time in mid-May, but this year that symbolic threshold has been crossed even earlier. This means it is more likely that the annual peak, which typically occurs in mid-to-late May, will climb further above 400 ppm for the first time.
Although crossing above 400 ppm is largely a symbolic milestone, scientific research indicates that the higher that carbon dioxide concentrations get, the more global temperatures will increase, resulting in a wide range of damaging effects. These impacts will range from global sea level rise to a heightened risk of heat waves, severe droughts and floods, according to a recently released comprehensive assessment of climate science produced by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Modern carbon dioxide monitoring began in 1958 on the peak of Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano, which is more than two miles high. At that time, carbon dioxide concentrations were at just 313 ppm. They have risen rapidly and steadily since then, both at Mauna Loa and at other observatories around the world. The chart documenting this rise is perhaps the most iconic in all of climate science, known as the "Keeling Curve" for Charles David Keeling, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientist who began and maintained the monitoring program.
According to the Keeling Curve website, carbon dioxide concentrations spiked to 402.20 parts per million on April 7, whereas data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showed a slightly lower level of 402.11 parts per million on the same day. Both data sets indicate that daily carbon dioxide measurements have been at or above 400 ppm since March 29, and the graph appears on course to stay above 400 ppm throughout the rest of the month and into the next.
Why should students sell candy bars or wrapping paper for school fundraising when they could sell tree saplings instead? Earth Day Network and ForestNation have teamed up to change school fundraising for the better by encouraging students to sell tree-growing kits.
Health experts and chefs both often say you should eat "seasonally," or include foods in your diet that are grown at the same time of the year you eat them. For example, that means squash in the summer and fall, and artichokes in the spring. Eating seasonally is important, and carries benefits to your health, the planet, and your wallet. Here are some of them.
Release No. 0058.14Contact:Office of Communications (202)720-4623 USDA Announces Funding to Train and Educate Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers
WASHINGTON, April 11, 2014 – Today, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of more than $19 million in grants to help train, educate and enhance the sustainability of the next generation of agricultural producers through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP).
"USDA is committed to the next generation of America's farmers and ranchers because they represent the future of agriculture and are the backbone of our rural economy. As the average age of farmers continues to rise, we have no time to lose in getting more new farmers and ranchers established." said Secretary Vilsack. "Reauthorizing and expanding the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program is one of the many resources the 2014 Farm Bill gave us to build America's agricultural future. Through this program, we can build a diverse next generation of farmers and ranchers."
BFRDP is an education, training, technical assistance and outreach program designed to help farmers, ranchers and managers of non-industrial private forest land – specifically those aiming to start farming and those who have been farming or ranching for 10 or fewer years. It is managed by the National Institutes of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). NIFA will competitively award grants to organizations conducting programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers. Learn more about eligibility and how to apply (applications are due June 12, 2014).
Priority will be given to projects that are partnerships and collaborations led by or including non-governmental, community-based, or school-based agricultural educational organizations. All applicants are required to provide funds or in-kind support from non-federal sources in an amount that is at least equal to 25 percent of the federal funds requested.
By law, at least five percent of available funding will be allocated to programs and services for limited-resource and socially-disadvantaged beginning farmers and ranchers and farmworkers. Additionally, another five percent of available funding will be allocated for programming and services for military veteran farmers and ranchers.
BFRDP was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, receiving $100 million to be awarded over the next five years. The program was originally funded through the 2008 Farm Bill. Since then, NIFA has awarded more than $66 million through 136 grants to organizations that have developed education and training programs. More than 50,000 beginning farmers and ranchers have participated in projects funded by BRFDP.
NIFA is hosting two upcoming webinars for interested applicants on April 30 and May 6 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. The first webinar will focus on general guidelines for the program, while the second webinar will focus on the funding allocations for socially-disadvantaged and military veteran farmers and ranchers.
Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. More information is available at: www.nifa.usda.gov.