April's CO2 levels had the highest average in recorded history

The most common greenhouse gas created by human activities, carbon dioxide, was measured at record levels last month. According to Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii measured the atmosphere's average carbon dioxide concentration level at 410.31 parts per million last month. That's the highest monthly average in recorded history.

Carbon dioxide is a troublesome byproduct of human activities; it traps solar radiation in the atmosphere, contributing to a warmer planet. A warmer planet, then, causes a host of problems for life on Earth, including disruptions to major systems that could have negative impacts on huge numbers of people.

The aforementioned Mauna Loa Observatory is behind the Keeling Curve measurement series, which began in 1958. Researchers saw the most startling figure back in 2013 — that was the first time in recorded history that CO2 levels exceeded 400ppm.

According to Scripps, pre-Industrial Revolution levels had never managed to tip past the 300ppm threshold. In Fact, last month's average was one of the highest figures reached in the last 800,000 years. For its part, NASA shows the most recent CO2 measurement at 408ppm taken in March 2018.

Not all sources of carbon dioxide are man-made, of course. Volcanic eruptions, for example, contribute to CO2 levels. However, humans activities have had a larger effect: they include burning fossil fuels and deforestation. The space agency provides a download containing the data for anyone interested.