Greenhouse gases rose to record levels last year, according to a new report by the World Meteorological Organization, making a worldwide climate treaty more critical now than ever. Concentrations of carbon dioxide in particular peaked at 396 parts per million, the BBC reports—3ppm over the previous year, in the fastest rate spurt since 1984. "We know without any doubt that our climate is changing and our weather is becoming more extreme due to human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels," WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a statement, Reuters reports.
Scientists are concerned the increase isn't just due to emissions overload: It could also be because the biosphere is saturated and can't absorb any more CO2. The world's oceans are also soaking up the gas at unprecedented rates, notes the BBC. And humans aren't the only ones who should be worried: A National Audubon Society study says the migration paths and living quarters of more than half of the birds in North America are in danger from climate change, NPR reports. A UN summit is scheduled on Sept. 23 to set the next steps for global climate action. For Jarraud, that meeting can't come soon enough. "We are running out of time," he says. "[We need to] give our planet a chance and … our children and grandchildren a future." (Here's a greenhouse gas that's reportedly even worse than carbon dioxide.)