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Greenhouse Gas Emissions Smash Records Again: UN

Common Dreams staff

Greenhouse gas emissions in our atmosphere shattered all previous records in 2011, according to a new report by the UN World Meteorological Organization released Tuesday.

The worst of the global warming gases -- carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide -- all reached new highs in 2011 the WMO said in its annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin report.

"Between 1990 and 2011 there was a 30% increase in radiative forcing — the warming effect on our climate — because of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping long-lived gases," the group reports.

Carbon dioxide alone reached 140 percent of the "pre-industrial level" (before 1750).

In particular, planet-warming gas methane reached new highs in 2011, at 1813 ppb -- 259 percent above the pre-industrial level.

"These billions of tonnes of additional carbon dioxide in our atmosphere will remain there for centuries, causing our planet to warm further and impacting on all aspects of life on earth [sic]," WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a statement.

"Future emissions will only compound the situation," he cautioned.

The WMO report placed the blame squarely on human activities including fossil fuel use, cattle breeding, rice agriculture, landfills and biomass burning. Five major gases emitted in such practices account for 96 percent of the warming climate the groups said.

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