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Atop the Big Island mountain, scientists monitor the rise in carbon dioxide levels.
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At the Mauna Loa Observatory on the Big Island, scientists have been monitoring carbon dioxide levels since the 1950s. The work done there by Charles David Keeling changed how people understood what is happening to the planet as a result of the burning of fossil fuels. The levels of carbon dioxide measured at the facility have risen from 310 parts per million in the 1950s to 390 today. The question we face as a result of the Mauna Loa research isn’t whether emissions are transforming the atmosphere. The work on Mauna Loa makes it clear that they are. Keeling’s son, Ralph, wonders about how that increase will change the environment. “When I go see things with my children, I let them know they might not be around when they’re old,” he told The New York Times. “Go enjoy these beautiful forest before they disappear. Go enjoy the glaciers in these parks because they won’t be around.”