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Pioneer agriculture explosion and CO2 levels in the atmosphere

Abstract

THERE has recently been considerable concern regarding the increasing consumption of fossil fuels. For example, it has been computed that up to 1950, 60 × 109 tonnes of carbon in the form of CO2 have been discharged into the atmosphere, due to industrial processes such as cement-making and the combustion of coal, oil and natural gas1,2. The changing composition of the atmosphere, and in particular its possible effect on world climate, is a matter of great anxiety. Currently, the CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are being monitored at several places on the Earth's surface and it is generally agreed that the levels are increasing by about 1 p.p.m. yr−1 (refs 3–6). This paper points out that even bigger changes occurred in the late nineteenth century due to the sudden expansion of agriculture.

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