Last year was the second hottest year since 1951, when scientific instruments first start rigorously tracking global temperature, according to data released last week. The chart above shows a longer view, with temperatures dating back to 1880, using less complete data. The map, meanwhile, shows some of troubling details in the trend. While the global average has risen by about 1oF since 1951, the icebound northern climes are warming much faster. In 2007 (through November), polar regions were more than 7oF warmer than the 1951-1980 mean. This imbalanced is predicted by climate models. As reflective snow and ice retreat, darker ocean water and landforms absorb and hold more heat, accelerating warming. For more details on these trends, check out the latest public note from NASA climate scientist James Hansen (click here to check it out). Thought somewhat technical, his regular summaries about climate science are clear and highly influential. The images above are drawn from his January report.
BusinessWeek correspondents John Carey and Mark Scott, cover the green scene, keeping on top of the business aspects of energy, the environment and climate change, as well as the technologies, policies, markets and people that are shaping how the earth's resources will be used in the century ahead.