From Scientific American:
Human activity results in the emission of some 30 billion metric tons of climate change–causing carbon dioxide (CO2) per year. About half of the greenhouse gas is absorbed by the world's oceans and plants, among other natural processes, but the rest lingers in the atmosphere for a century or more, driving up annual CO2 concentrations by around two parts per million (ppm).
Those atmospheric concentrations have climbed from roughly 280 ppm in the 18th century before the widespread burning of fossil fuels to 386 ppm today—and continue to rise. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the coal-fired power plants built or planned since the turn of the 21st century will emit more carbon dioxide than all human coal-burning since the dawn of the Industrial Age: 660 billion metric tons over the next 25 years versus 524 billion metric tons emitted between 1751 and 2000.
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