With much fanfare, in 2015, under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), The 21st Convention of Parties (COP21) adopted The Paris Agreement as a plan for global action to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the unavoidable impacts from climate change. Three years later, COP24 took place December 1-14, 2018, in Katowice Poland. After tense moments and hard work of the negotiators lasting into early morning hours, the “rulebook” for the Paris Agreement was largely finalized. Such negotiations can often seem opaque and complex.
A version of this post was first published in the East Hampton Star on September 14, 2017. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily represent the views of the American Association for the Advancement of Science or East Hampton Star.
While some politicians claim that climate change is a hoax, and climate scientists try to refine their models and forecasts of how much warming will take place in the next few decades, marine scientists can see clearly the evidence of what has already happened.
Climate change is most commonly thought of as an environmental and economic issue, but it is also a serious national security threat. The national security Americans currently enjoy is jointly maintained by diplomatic and military efforts, but failing to vigorously combat climate change at the national and international levels will likely lead to increased regional and global conflict, decreased military effectiveness and operational capabilities, and ultimately an America that is more vulnerable.
In developing countries, understanding the content of pollutants in the atmosphere is very important to gauging the health burden associated with air quality as well as the impact on climate change. Although climate change models have traditionally focused on sources such as cars and factories, they have missed a large and deadly source—the kitchen stove.
This post was written with the assistance of Lauren Smith-Ramesh (National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis) and Susan Kalisz (University of Tennessee)
President Trump is a businessman. His goals have included minimizing risk where possible and maximizing profits for himself and his associates. Mr. Trump’s success has been at least partly determined by his ability to take advantage of opportunities and anticipate problems better than his competitors.
In December 2015, 191 countries adopted the Paris Climate Agreement and took it back to their home countries for ratification. Now, almost a year later, the agreement met the threshold standards for ratification, enabling it to go into effect. It’s a hopeful time for climate activists, but even with ratification, much could still go wrong in meeting the agreement’s goals. A vocal minority of climate skeptics refute the science, object to costly mitigation and adaptation efforts, and threaten to unravel recent progress.
The COP is here. Yet another Conference of Parties to agonize over climate change impacts, who’s responsible, and who’s going to foot the bill. Given past history, I doubt much will change substantially at the COP itself when it comes to formalities and actual decisions (although there has been promising noise with US-China joint statements and the like).
The science of climate change is firmly established.
Of course there are still many of the finer details to work out, but the basic facts are clear: the sea level is rising, temperatures are increasing, rare weather events are becoming more common, Arctic sea ice is melting, and across the globe ice sheets and mountain glaciers are shrinking rapidly--- and all of this is happening at a pace that both natural and man-made systems will have trouble adapting to. Bottom line: We know enough about climate change to know we have to act.
So why haven’t we?