Guess what? Despite the distinct lack of mainstream media coverage over the past couple of years, global warming is still with us.
NASA climate scientists, from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, have found that the global average surface temperature for 2011 was the 9th warmest on record, since 1880 that is. Importantly, NASA also points out that 9 of the 10 warmest years on record have happened just since 2000. The warmest years on record have been a tie between 2005 and 2010.
NASA explains that while temperatures fluctuate from year to year, during the past decade the Earth has “experienced sustained higher temperatures than any decade during the 20th century”.
NASA says that as greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel energy production, industry and transport have increased over the years, global temperatures have also risen, most markedly since the late 1970s.
The level of carbon dioxide in the air in 1880 was around 285 parts per million. In 1960 it had risen to 315 parts per million. Now it’s over 390 parts per million, and is continuing to rise at an accelerating rate.
The embedded NASA video animation shows the temperature data way back from 1880 to 2011. The red colours indicate temperatures higher than average during a baseline timeframe between 1951 to 1980. The blue colours indicate lower than average temperatures. It gets pretty alarming towards the end of the video.
Eminent climatologist and Goddard Institute for Space Studies Director James Hansen noted,
“We know the planet is absorbing more energy than it is emitting, so we are continuing to see a trend toward higher temperatures. Even with the cooling effects of a strong La Niña influence and low solar activity for the past several years, 2011 was one of the 10 warmest years on record.”
Hansen adds that he expects record-breaking global average temperatures during the next 2 to 3 years, because solar activity is swinging upward and the next El Niño will increase temperatures in the tropical Pacific.
Very sobering stuff. It’s lucky that the world has been moving swiftly into action to combat this major situation. Oh wait, that’s right, we haven’t quite yet.
Video: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Visualization credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio)