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2011 was warmest in 130 years

In Focus

The global temperature in 2011 was the ninth warmest since 1880, thanks to greenhouse gases. According to NASA scientists, Earth experienced warmer temperatures during the last decade than several decades ago. The average temperature around the globe in 2011 was 0.92 degrees F (0.51 C) warmer than the mid-20th century baseline. The warmest years on record were 2005 and 2010.

“We know the planet is absorbing more energy than it is emitting, said James E. Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. “So we are continuing to see a trend toward higher temperatures.”

The difference between 2011 and the warmest year in the GISS record (2010) is 0.22 degrees F (0.12 C), showing the trend of rise in global temperature. Though scientists do not expect temperatures to rise consistently year after year, they do expect a continuing temperature rise over decades.

Higher temperature is largely attributed to increased atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide. These gases absorb infrared radiation emitted by Earth and release that energy into the atmosphere rather than allowing it to escape to space. As their atmospheric concentration increases, the amount of energy “trapped” by these gases leads to higher temperatures.

The carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere was about 285 parts per million in 1880, when the GISS started recording global temperature. By 1960, it had risen to about 315 parts per million and today it exceeds 390 parts per million and continues to rise at an accelerating pace.

India is the fifth largest contributor of greenhouse emissions in the world, after USA, China, EU and Russia. According to federal Environment and Forests Ministry, the emissions intensity of India’s GDP declined by more than 30 per cent during 1994-2007. The major contributors for the burgeoning greenhouse emissions in India are cement production, power generation and transport.

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