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Hotter and hotter: concentrations of greenhouse gases hit another new record

As expected, greenhouse gas concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere hit another record last year, according to a new UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases means that radiative forcing—changes in the atmosphere’s energy balance that leads to warming—has jumped 30 percent in the last twenty years.

Carbon hit 390.9 parts per million in 2011, while methane and nitrous oxide also hit new highs: 1,813 parts per billion for methane and 324.2 parts per billion for nitrous oxide.

The news comes just days before the next UN Climate Summit kicks off in Doha, Qatar. In addition, yesterday the World Bank released a grim report on the world’s current global warming trajectory, even if nations keep all of their pledges on emissions cuts. The report found that by the end of the century, if not before, global temperatures will rise 4 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

“A world in which warming reaches 4°C above preindustrial levels [..] would be one of unprecedented heat waves, severe drought, and major floods in many regions, with serious impacts on human systems, ecosystems, and associated services,” the World Bank report warns, noting that there will be “a rapidly rising risk of crop yield reductions as the world warms.”

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