One year ago, 195 countries agreed a pact to limit global warming. Although there was - and remains - doubt over whether the commitments that were made would be enough to limit warming to the extent the signatory countries professed they wanted, the pact was hailed as "historic, durable and ambitious." Certainly, it was necessary, coming as the planetary warning signs were flashing bright red. As the ink dried on the agreement's signatures, 2015 was about to succeed 2014 as the warmest year on record – a title it would lose to 2016.
With the combination of international action and overwhelming evidence, it felt as if the tide of climate denialism – the determined rearguard action by anti-science and pro-fossil fuel politicians and their kinfolk to assert that global warming didn't exist - had been finally turned back. Twelve months later, the landscape looks entirely different.
After the Paris accord was reached, Dana Nuccitelli, a climate blogger for Skeptical Science and The Guardian, actually wrote a piece about how the deniers had lost. "At the time, I thought the Paris accords were basically the death knell for the climate denial industry," he told Seeker. "After all, climate denial is based entirely on opposition to climate solutions and policies, and the whole world had agreed that such solutions and policies were necessary. Then, less than a year later, the world's largest historical carbon polluter elected a president who had promised to use his power to undermine the Paris accords and undo all the progress his predecessor had made in finally curbing the country's contribution to global warming. I did not see this climate denial rebound coming, and I find it both depressing and alarming."