Rise in carbon levels raises fears of runaway warming

Carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere much faster than scientists expected, raising fears that humankind may have less time to tackle climate change than previously thought, reports the Guardian on Friday.

New figures from dozens of measuring stations across the world reveal that concentrations of CO2 rose at record levels during 2006 – the fourth year in the last five to show a sharp increase.

Experts are puzzled because the spike, which follows decades of more modest annual rises, does not appear to match the pattern of steady increases in human emissions.

At its most far reaching, the finding could indicate that global temperatures are making forests, soils and oceans less able to absorb carbon dioxide – a shift that would make it harder to tackle global warming.

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