Richard Betts’ Gloomy Milestone

By Paul Homewood



Most people would regard the transformation of human life, from the grinding poverty of the past to the affluence of today, as good news, something to be proud of and grateful for.

Richard Betts thinks it’s all rather gloomy:




This year the climate is passing a gloomy threshold. The concentration of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere is reaching 417 parts per million: an increase of 50 per cent since humans embarked on the industrial revolution and began to emit greenhouse gasses at large scales.

Measurements at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii are revealing that CO₂ concentrations have already been above this level on some days, and are expected to remain above this symbolic threshold for around three months.

Atmospheric rise in carbon dioxide from the industrial revolution to the present day

Next year, CO₂ concentrations are expected be more than 50% above pre-industrial across most of the year, and will continue to rise until global emissions reach net zero.

Prof Richard Betts MBE is Head of Climate Impacts Research at the Met Office, and one of his areas of research is forecasting the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Prof Betts said: “Humans began burning fossil fuels at large scales at the end of the Eighteenth Century, and it took about 200 years for the atmosphere to see a 25 per cent increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, but only another 35 years to reach this year’s sorry milestone of a 50 per cent increase.” 



Yes, Richard. It’s gloomy that life expectancy around the world has doubled since pre-industrial times. And that undernourishment in the third world has been falling rapidly. Or that the number of people living in extreme poverty is a fraction of what it used to be. Or that deaths from famine are now a tiny number, most of which are in any event due to wars.









None of this would have been possible without the industrial revolution and the sustained economic growth that has followed, neither of which could have happened without fossil fuels.

Maybe Richard would like to tell us which planet he is living on, because it’s certainly not this one!


March 29, 2021 at 08:03AM

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