Climate Pioneers are Looking to Global South

The reality of climate change is attested by overwhelming evidence. It is now reported that 2015 was by far the hottest year since accurate records began to be collected more than a century ago. The recent confluence of steady temperature rises and a warming phase of the Southern Oscillation (exemplified in El Niňo) has resulted in the seven months from November 2015 to May 2016 each being the warmest of these individual months ever recorded, some by almost 1⁰C over the previous highest. These are extraordinary figures, given that records in monthly world temperatures are more likely to be measured in small fractions of a degree.

This recent acceleration causes concern over possible tipping-points which would lead to irreversible and uncontrollable temperature rises. In particular, these might be fuelled by the rapid release of huge quantities of carbon from any one of several “carbon sinks”, such as Arctic permafrost with its locked-in carbon or the Boreal forests of the near-Arctic. The process could be triggered by forest wildfires unlocking carbon dioxide, or the melting of the permafrost unlocking large quantities of methane (“marsh gas”), a particularly potent climate gas (see "Climate disruption, the new reality", 19 May 2016).