Smoke Stacks, 1942. Photo by Alfred T. Palmer/Library of Congress
Extreme storms, sea level rise, record breaking heat, ocean acidification; these are just a few of the impacts we are already seeing from global warming and climate change.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties 21st meeting (COP 21) is occurring in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, with the goal of a new universal climate agreement to bring greenhouse gas emissions down to sustainable levels.
The scientific evidence of the human causes for global warming is clear. Since the mid-20th century, increased concentrations of greenhouse gasses (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen) in our atmosphere have trapped heat, causing unequivocal warming of the Earth. Human energy use, agriculture and deforestation activities are mostly to blame.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to avoid substantial risks to the Earth and our society by the end of the 21st century, the world needs to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions in the next few decades, thereby limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6° F) above pre-industrial levels.