It's official: 2015 was the warmest year since records began in 1850. With both 2014 and 2015 now having broken records and 2016 expected to do the same, it is clear global warming is a reality, with experts warning the climate is now in 'unchartered territory'.
According to the Met Office, the average global temperature in 2015 was 0.75C higher than the long-term average between 1961 and 1990. The previous record set was in 2014 with an average global temperature of 0.57C.
Looking at these figures, it is clear to see why we ought to be taking action to stem the rise in global temperatures. Indeed, the vital deal agreed in Paris at the Climate Conference demonstrated how world leaders are finally waking up to the dangers climate change poses.
Yet despite the overwhelming evidence confirming the presence of global warming, significant political figures, predominately in the United States, continue to deny that climate change even exists. Donald Trump, the frontrunner and bookies favourite to win the GOP presidential nomination, with his increased publicity is now one of the most prominent climate deniers in American politics.
In 2014, he claimed on Twitter that "all weather events are used by the GLOBAL WARMING HOAXSTERS to justify higher taxes to save our planet! They don't believe it $$$$!"
Somehow this isn't even his most outrgeous claim. In 2012, he said that "the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive", and in 2013 he said "it's snowing & freezing in NYC. What the hell ever happened to global warming?".
However, if you think Donald Trump is the only Republican presidential candidate to deny the existence of global warming you would be wrong. Last year, Ted Cruz, who has recently been rising in the polls, compared climate change activists to "the equivalent of the flat-Earthers". Even candidates who accept the climate is changing, such as Marco Rubio, claim the government can do nothing to combat the rise in global temperatures. It is clear that although the candidates views differ on climate change somewhat, they predominately share a consensus that it is not an issue we should be concerned about.
Considering the aforementioned broken global temperature records, this is a remarkable and extremely disturbing stance to hold. For the Republican presidential nomination to enter the battle with their Democratic opponent doubting the existence of climate change is an incredible inditement of the party. Although it wouldn't be the first.
The positive news is that not only are Trump and the other Republican candidates out of step with science, they are also isolated in terms of public opinion. A poll carried out last year found that 70% of Americans now believe that global warming is real and the evidence to support it is strong. Moreover, only 26% of self-identified Republicans now doubt the existence of climate change, compared to 41% the previous year.
With the vast majority of the public now convinced of climate change, almost all of the scientific community agreeing the earth's temperature is on the rise, and the recently released data confirming that 2015 was indeed another record-breaking year, with 2016 set to follow the same trend, it is clear Republican candidates need to face the reality of the earth's warming climate and the consequences this brings.