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Largest Increase In CO2 Recorded In Atmosphere

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The largest annual increase in CO2 levels in Earth's atmosphere was recorded in 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

CO2 levels rose from 400 parts per million during the previous year to 403.3 parts per million, BBC News reported.

"It is the largest increase we have ever seen in the 30 years we have had this network," Dr. Oksana Tarasova, head of the WMO, told the BBC.

While the increase could be put down in part to the El Nino weather pattern, human activity also played a role.

"The largest increase was in the previous El Nino, in 1997-1998, and it was 2.7ppm; and now it is 3.3ppm," added Tarasova. "It is also 50% higher than the average of the last 10 years."

Tarasova stressed that the rates of CO2 in the atmosphere are now higher than they were after the last ice age. Scientists do not have data on how, precisely, this will impact the climate, but Tarasova emphasized that sudden and unexpected changes would occur.

"Geological-wise, it is like an injection of a huge amount of heat," she said.

The findings follow a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which revealed that the United States spends billions of dollars on disasters related to climate change. The study considered extreme weather events and wildfires across the country and came to the conclusion that over the past decade, the federal government has spent $350 billion on such disasters.

"The impacts and costs of extreme events -- such as floods, drought and other events -- will increase in significance as what are considered rare events become more common and intense because of climate change," the authors of the report wrote, according to Voice of America.

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The report urged President Donald Trump's administration to identify high-risk areas using the information provided and "craft appropriate federal responses," CNN reported.

The Trump administration has shifted course from policies pursued under former President Barack Obama. In June, Trump declared he would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, which was negotiated by almost all of the world's countries. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt subsequently announced an end to the clean power plan, which sought to reduce the amount of fossil fuels used for producing energy.

The GAO report's figures did not include the cost of recent major storms, including Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. These storms caused significant damage in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, respectively.

Sources: BBC News, Voice of America, CNN / Featured Image: U.S. Department of State/Flickr / Embedded Images: U.S. Department of State/Flickr, Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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