The big news starting on Saturday grew out of reports that scientists measured an average concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide of 400 parts per million for the first time, which equals one very busy UGA geography professor:
"Most experts that really study CO2 amounts estimate that we haven't seen that amount of CO2 in our atmosphere in about 3 million years," said J. Marshall Shepherd, climate change expert and professor at the University of Georgia. In other words, modern humans have never seen carbon dioxide in these proportions before.
Scientists say it's apparent that human activity -- namely burning coal, oil and natural gas -- has been driving a rapid rise of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
The amount of carbon dioxide varies daily somewhat and has cycled historically in accordance with changes in the Earth's orbit, a phenomenon known as Milankovitch cycles. But the exponential rise in carbon dioxide levels since the Industrial Revolution is far out of the ordinary, experts say.
The number 400 parts per million is symbolic of what many scientists believe to be the inevitable growth of this gas in our atmosphere, Shepherd said. Getting to this number was to be expected.
"It also is kind of a warning sign or red flag that hey, we really need to tackle this problem," he said. "It's happening right before our eyes."
What if this meant you had to do something drastic to cut down on the amount of CO2 you personally generate? What if. What could you start doing different this afternoon that would begin to make a difference?