Talks about our climate

The United Nations Climate Change Conference was held from November 26 to December 8 in Doha, the capital of Qatar. Leaders and representatives from nearly 200 countries attended the annual event. World leaders met to discuss ways to work together to fight climate change, and to check on the progress made by different countries. One of the decisions made was to extend the lifetime of the Kyoto Protocol until 2020. Another decision was to come up with a new protocol that will come into effect after the Kyoto Protocol in 2020.

In 1997, leaders of some countries met in the Japanese town of Kyoto and agreed to reduce their countries’ greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement was called the Kyoto Protocol. The goal was to reduce enough emissions so that our global  average temperature doesn’t rise more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6°F). The Kyoto Protocol was due to expire at the end of this year.

The Earth has gotten warmer over the last 100 years. This could be something that the Earth is naturally doing, but many scientists believe that the Earth is warmer because of an increase in greenhouse gases created by some of our activities. Carbon dioxide and a few other gases such as methane, ozone, and nitrous oxide are called greenhouse gases because they help create something called “the greenhouse effect”. This is what keeps the Earth warm – without these gases, our planet would have been much colder. However, human activity has now driven up the production of these greenhouse gases. For example, when our car runs on petrol, it is producing carbon dioxide. When our computer runs at home, it needs electricity, which we get from a power plant. Many of the power plants burn fossil fuels, and that in turn produces more carbon dioxide. The larger amount of greenhouse gases is making our planet warmer than its usual state, causing global warming.

According to the World Meteorological Organisation, the years 2001 to 2011 were amongst the warmest years recorded since 1850. Even the first 10 months of this year place 2012 as one of the warmest years. The warmer temperatures are also impacting the Arctic sea ice. The Arctic sea ice cover in September was the lowest that has ever been recorded. (The Arctic sea ice floats in the water body around the North Pole region.)

The venue of the conference, Qatar, is a country in the Persian Gulf. It borders just one country, Saudi Arabia. Qatar is famous for its camel races held in Al Shahaniya. The camels are ridden by jockeys. However, the jockeys are not human but are radio-controlled robots!

Did you know? There is something else very famous from Kyoto, Japan. The gaming company, Nintendo, was started there in 1889. Long before the company created the Game Boy, the DS, and the Wii, Nintendo sold playing cards, and also tried to sell instant rice and run taxis!

Image Credits: UN for the Doha Meeting image; www.cop18.qa for the camel race image