Atmospheric levels of the three most important greenhouse gasses were higher in 2023 than they have ever been since the dawn of human civilization, according to a NOAA report released Friday. Last year saw the third-biggest jump in CO2 since precise record keeping began in 1959, reaching 419.3 parts per million: 50% higher than before the industrial revolution.

Methane, the main component of so-called “natural gas,” which traps more than 80 times more heat in the atmosphere than CO2 over a 20-year time scale, increased by the third-largest amount on record to 160% higher than preindustrial levels. The U.S. was the world’s biggest polluter of methane from oil and gas operations last year with a substantial body of research finding EPA is undercounting methane pollution from the sector. Nitrous oxide increased to 336 ppm, with those increases driven mostly by widespread nitrogen fertilizer use in industrial agriculture.

“Methane’s decadal spike should terrify us,” Stanford climate scientist Rob Jackson, who heads the Global Carbon Project, but was not involved in NOAA’s report, told the AP. “Fossil fuel pollution is warming natural systems like wetlands and permafrost. Those ecosystems are releasing even more greenhouse gases as they heat up. We’re caught between a rock and a charred place.” (AP, The Guardian, Common Dreams)