The biggest mystery in climate science today may have begun, unbeknownst to anybody at the time, with a subtle weakening of the tropical trade winds blowing across the Pacific Ocean in late 1997. These winds normally push sun-baked water towards Indonesia. When they slackened, the warm water sloshed back towards South America, resulting in a spectacular example of a phenomenon known as El Niño. Average global temperatures hit a record high in 1998 — and then the warming stalled.
“Today, after two decades of bluff and lies, the remaining 2°C budget demands revolutionary change to the political and economic hegemony.” That was in a blog posting last year by Kevin Anderson, Professor of Energy and Climate Change at Manchester University. One of Britain’s most eminent climate scientists, Anderson is also Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. Or, we might take this blunt message, from an interview in November: “We need bottom-up and top-down action.
ExxonMobil's influential global energy report, "The Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040", says that new technologies like fracking and tar sands are unlocking a gusher of oil and natural gas. Our ability to extract new sources of fossilized carbon is growing even faster than we can burn them up.