The inability of world governments to agree on and implement effective mitigation response policy for anthropogenic climate change has resulted in the continuation of an exponential growth in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) that averages 3.1 per cent per year since 1870. With the exception of 2009, world GHG emission levels surpassed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2000) worst case scenario every year since 2004. Because of increasing temperatures due to GHG emissions a suite of amplifying feedback mechanisms, such as massive methane leaks from the sub-sea Arctic Ocean, have engaged and are probably unstoppable. These processes, acting in concert with the biological and physical inertia of the Earth system in responding to atmospheric loading of GHGs, along with economic, political and social barriers to emission reduction, currently place Earth’s climate trajectory well within the IPCC’s A1FI future climate change scenario. There is a rapidly diminishing chance of altering this trajectory as time goes on. There is also now a very real risk of sudden climate change. The pace of this quickly advancing situation, along with our scientific understanding of it, has substantially outstripped policy discussion. This article examines current primary science literature and data on today’s climate condition in a policy relevant context.