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How much carbon was in the atmosphere when you were born?

The Results

In YEARVAR, there were
YEARPPM ppm
carbon in the atmosphere.

Today, there are
416.43 ppm
carbon in the atmosphere.

That's an increase of
PPMCALC ppm
during your lifetime thus far.

These levels are speeding up. As a comparison, carbon only increased
YEARCALC ppm
during the USERAGE years before your birth.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is measured in parts per million (ppm). Yearly average carbon figures dating back to 1958 come from Mauna Loa (Hawaii) and the South Pole. Carbon figures before 1958 come from measurements of ice core samples in Antarctica.

Line graph showing the rise in CO2 over the course of a millennia.
The relentless rise of carbon dioxide This recent relentless rise in CO2 shows a remarkably constant relationship with fossil-fuel burning, and can be well accounted for based on the simple premise that about 60 percent of fossil-fuel emissions stay in the air. From climate.nasa.gov. © NASA

If we split our atmosphere today into 1 million parts, 416 of them would be made of carbon dioxide. And while 416 parts per million (ppm) might not seem like a lot, it’s the most we’ve seen in at least 3 million years. All of this extra carbon dioxide is warming up the planet.

These levels have sped up during your lifetime, but don’t take it personally: that fact is true for everyone alive today. But you know what else can happen in your lifetime? We can take the most important steps to reduce carbon emissions and give our planet the future that is least impacted.

It will take collective action. It will take new technologies. And it will take very old technology—like nature.


A Natural Solution To Climate Change

A Natural Solution to Climate Change (3:01) Want to fight climate change? Then we need to phase out fossil fuels as soon as possible—and work more with nature. In fact, protecting and restoring nature could provide 1/3 of the greenhouse gas reductions we need to keep the climate in safe boundaries.

Learn more at nature.org/ncs

Results from dataset are pulled from https://data.giss.nasa.gov/modelforce/ghgases/Fig1A.ext.txt. Dataset was also used for 2000-2011, with NOAA/ESRL trends added to 2003 data. De-seasonalized values were used for August of the given year to calculate for birth years 2012-2020.
Autumn ferns on the banks of Calavale Brook at the south end of Burnt Mountain preserve, Vermont.