Have we reached the carbon tipping point?

9th August 2013

Earlier this year, the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii – a leading atmospheric research centre, pictured below – released data showing that the global concentration of carbon dioxide molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere had reached 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in recoded history. While this data caused a small ripple of interest amongst scientific scholars and environmental enthusiasts, the issue went largely unreported. So why are we bringing it up again, and what is the significance of the 400ppm reading?

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and is the biggest contributor to global warming (the rise in the Earth’s temperature due to the changing composition of the atmosphere). It is most commonly emitted by the burning of fossil fuels to generate energy that is then converted into electricity.

The 400ppm value has been suggested as the carbon tipping point. This means that, once it has been reached, the impact on the Earth’s environment will be significantly noticeable, leading to a state of imbalance that will see an increase in flooding, tropical storms, drought and other factors related to climate change. Some research suggests that carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere have not been this high for around three million years – a time at which humans did not exist. The majority of climate researchers agree that 350ppm is the highest safe level of carbon dioxide at which the Earth’s state will be maintainable and livable. The rapid rate that we have reached and exceeded this in recent years is of serious concern.

What are we doing to reduce carbon dioxide? At Brightgreen, all of our products harness low-energy, high-efficacy systems, meaning that more light is emitted using less power. This enables us not only to reduce energy bills but to reduce the carbon dioxide emitted as a result of our products.

Our Retrofit range is the easiest route to reducing your own carbon dioxide emissions. By providing easy-to-install replacement products for the inefficient halogen and incandescent lights still on the market, we’re working towards a more efficient world. We are also expanding our Retrofit range in the near future to include a wider variety of bulbs – watch this space for updates.

For more information on the significance of the 400ppm tipping point, visit 400.350.org. To work out how much carbon dioxide you could save by retrofitting, check out our retrofit calculator.