In 2012, NOAA’s Karl said, “both the day and the nighttime temperatures were breaking their all-time records,” and that, combined with drier conditions, amounted to “a double whammy.”
Despite researchers’ concerns, global carbon emissions continue to rise. The International Energy Agency estimated last month that coal will come close to surpassing oil as the world’s top energy source in 2017 , when an additional 1.2 billion metric tons will be burned annually. In late November, the World Resources Institute reported there are nearly 1,200 proposed coal plants around the globe, three-quarters of which are planned for China and India.
By Jan. 1 of this year, the Kyoto Protocol was supposed to have cut the world’s greenhouse-gas output by 5 percent compared with 1990 levels. But while the signatories as a whole are likely to meet that target — in part because of the shutdown of Eastern European factories during the 1990s — global carbon emissions overall rose 54 percent in that same period, according to the Global Carbon Project.