Global warming in 27 seconds

News and analysis by Dan Telvock, Investigative Post's environmental reporter

Don’t believe in global warming?

Then watch this 27-second eye-opening animated video from NASA that shows how significant global temperatures have increased since 1880.

According to NASA, the red in the map indicates temperatures higher than the average during a baseline period of 1951-1980. Blue indicates lower temperatures than the baseline average.

Why is this happening? Greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide levels, are on the rise. These gases act like a blanket over earth, trapping energy that should be rising into space, resulting in higher, sustained temperatures.

Since 1880, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increases more than 74 percent.

NASA notes that the global average surface temperature in 2011 was the ninth warmest since 1880. That matches a trend in which nine of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 2000.

“We know the planet is absorbing more energy than it is emitting,” said GISS Director James E. Hansen. “So we are continuing to see a trend toward higher temperatures. Even with the cooling effects of a strong La NiƱa influence and low solar activity for the past several years, 2011 was one of the 10 warmest years on record.”

Do you know which company is the top greenhouse gas emitter in New York? If not, you’ll find out this week when we publish a story showing three of the top-10 greenhouse gas emitters are right here in Western New York.