Some people may think climate change is just a myth, but there’s no arguing with this: NASA scientists say the earth’s surface temperature in 2011 was the ninth warmest since 1880. What’s more, nine of the 10 warmest years in modern recorded history have occurred since the year 2000.

NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, which continually monitors global surface temperatures, says temps in 2011 compared to those seen in the mid-20th century, and that the average temperature around the globe last year was almost a full degree warmer than the mid-20th century baseline.

Since climates vary so greatly, scientists don’t expect temperatures to rise consistently every year, but they do think they’ll keep rising in the decades to come.

NASA explains the trend thusly:

Higher temperatures today are largely sustained by increased atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide. These gases absorb infrared radiation emitted by Earth and release that energy into the atmosphere rather than allowing it to escape to space. As their atmospheric concentration has increased, the amount of energy “trapped” by these gases has led to higher temperatures.

It also says that as greenhouse gas emissions from energy production, industry and vehicles have increased, temperatures have climbed, most notably since the late 1970s.

Bottom line: Maybe those die-hard environmentalists have been right all along.

[NASA]