How climate change has damaged the planet
From Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, Barack Obama and leaders from every nation will gather in Paris for the United Nations climate change conference — a 10-day meeting of historic proportions. They won’t be carving up empires, renegotiating trade pacts, or creating a new kingdom. The goal of the talks is more fundamental: to stop global warming.
The past three decades have already been the hottest on record and 2015 is expected to set a scorching new high. If we don’t curtail the warming soon — by scaling back on the heat-trapping pollution that comes from the oil, gas and coal we burn for energy — we risk “severe, pervasive, and irreversible” damage to the planet, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
That means stronger storms, more severe droughts, and forced migrations on a scale never before experienced. The fond hope is that the conference will yield an international agreement — the first of its kind — to cut the pollution that’s driving these extremes and keep the overall temperature increase to less than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius.) Will it be a success?