WASHINGTON, D.C.: Last year was among a handful of the warmest on record since 1880, according to United States (US) government figures out Tuesday that provide more evidence that the planet is heating up.
Human-caused pollution and the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal have driven up greenhouse gas levels, leading to this long-term rise in temperatures, said the US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Carbon dioxide is at its highest level in the atmosphere in 800,000 years, having risen from 285 parts per million (ppm) in 1880 to 400 ppm last year, NASA said.
Unless current trends change, scientists said the world should expect each of the coming decades to be warmer than the last, said NASA Climatologist Gavin Schmidt.
He described the warming of the past few decades as “unusual,” and urged people not to judge whether climate change is happening or not based on random weather events like cold snaps.”
“The long-term trends in climate are extremely robust,” he told reporters.
“People have a very short memory when it comes to their own experience of weather and climate, and the only way that we can have a long-term assessment of what is going on is by looking at the data.”