Our changing world

Earth in a web of satellites

Last week, 150 world leaders met in Paris to begin a meeting that would last 11 days on the topic of climate change. This is a huge gathering, one of the biggest in the world in terms of leaders being in one place.  And I should think so too – the future of the planet is pretty important.

The gathering is called the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and has focussed on a warning about a 2°C rise in global temperature. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that a 2°C would increase the number of extreme climate events such as hurricanes and droughts.

When this meeting last took place in Copenhagen in 2009, countries agreed on their determination to limit global warming to 2°C between then and 2100.

Leaders have been working together to launch some projects aimed at creating a cleaner world. These projects include the following:

  1. Mission Innovation: This aims to accelerate global clean energy technology so that energy not derived from fossil fuels such as wind and water power is available worldwide.
  2. Solar Alliance: Countries with considerable solar resources will work together (Brazil, Peru, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Netherlands, Indonesia, UAE and Fiji) to harness the immense energy of the sun.
  3. Carbon pricing discussion: Due to carbon emissions being so harmful to the atmosphere, World leaders will encourage their peers to support international carbon pricing, to discourage excessive pollution. The biggest producers of carbon dioxide are China, the U.S and Europe.

We breathe out carbon dioxide, car exhausts belch it out and all the world’s animals produce it. It is also one of the greenhouse gases which traps an increasing amount of the sun’s heat in the atmosphere, thus heating up the planet. Methane is another of these gases and is released by decomposing rubbish in landfills and by cows breaking wind. Cow farts causing global warming? Yes, you read correctly. And humans eat a lot of cows so you can see the problem.

Buckhorn Mesa landfill

©Flickr

According  to the convention this week, Greenhouse gas emissions now need to be reduced by 40-70%. In 2009 all countries pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 2025/30.

Sustainable forest is also a huge priority because plants take in carbon dioxide, and give out oxygen. The more we cut them down, the less there are to absorb carbon dioxide. Mexico set a target of 0% deforestation by 2030 and Brazil wants to end illegal deforestation by the same date. Cambodia aims to cover 60% of territory with forests by 2030. Wishful thinking? Perhaps.

Although science proves that the heat of the planet is on an upward trajectory, it has fluctuated throughout history. Due to this evidence, some people believe that the human race is kidding itself if it thinks it can control the temperature of our world. If everyone in the world lived in a city as dense as New York, we would only cover an area the size of Texas. So maybe it’s a bit presumptuous to think that we can harness and manipulate Mother Nature. That said, there is undeniable evidence that our consumption and destruction of living things is accelerating as the human race grows bigger. So whether we can or can’t drastically alter the temperature of the planet, we can behave in a more responsible way. Check out this article to find out what you can do to make the world a slightly greener place.

4203327856_747b9d7ed8_b flickr

Some people are sceptical about global warming

 

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