Making sense of recent energy trends can seem like a high-stakes Rorschach test. Some experts see the boom in renewable energy and the shift away from coal in many countries as evidence that the world is beginning to turn a corner on global warming. Others see simply a continuing reliance on low-cost fossil fuels, slow governmental action and a rising risk of planetary meltdown.

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The waters of the Southern Ocean have absorbed much of the excess heat and carbon generated by humanity.

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The Amazon is ready to burn. After an unusually dry rainy season, the southern section of the rainforest is heading into winter with the largest moisture deficit since 1998. This has set the stage for an unusually intense fire season, according to a forecast issued on 29 June that is based on sea-surface temperature trends in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

US president pushed world to secure radioactive materials, but the threat of nuclear warfare — and terrorism — remains.

It’s official: 2015 was the hottest year on record. Global data show that a powerful El Niño, marked by warmer waters in the tropical Pacific Ocean, helped to drive atmospheric temperatures well past 2014's record highs. Some researchers suggest that broader Pacific trends could spell even more dramatic temperature increases in years to come.

When the gavel came down for the final time at the climate summit in Paris on 12 December, representatives from 195 countries erupted into cheers. They had approved a landmark plan to combat climate change after two weeks of gruelling negotiations. The agreement commits most countries to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions, while seeking to protect low-lying islands from rising seas and helping poor nations to develop their economies without relying on cheap, dirty fossil fuels.

A new generation of economists is trying to transform global development policy through the power of randomized controlled trials.

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The Millennium Villages Project (MVP) stands out among development efforts in Africa. Since its launch in 2004, it has attracted generous donations and high-wattage supporters — including Hollywood actor Angelina Jolie and United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon — for its work on alleviating poverty in rural Africa. The programme has delivered aid to at least 500,000 people in 10 countries, and has been emulated in others.

Scientists are once again reporting alarmingly high methane emissions from an oil and gas field, underscoring questions about the environmental benefits of the boom in natural-gas production that is transforming the US energy system.

Scientists monitor greenhouse gases in urban areas as a first step to gauging success of climate initiatives worldwide.