World leaders talk about the weather

The United Nations Conference on Climate Change is being held from November 30 to December 11 in Paris, the capital of France. Leaders and representatives from nearly 200 countries are attending the annual event. World leaders are discussing ways to work together to fight climate change, and to check on the progress made by different countries. One of the goals is to get an agreement amongst all the attendees for reducing emissions so that our planet’s global average temperature doesn’t rise over 2 degrees Celsius (3.6°F).

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 cooler. However, human activity has now driven up the production of these 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 time from 2011 to 2015 has been the warmest five-year period on record. Based on temperature readings from the first 10 months of this year, 2015 most probably will set the record for the warmest year ever recorded. (Record keeping began in 1880.)

Over 10 thousand pairs of shoes were left at a square in Paris by people as a way to protest and remind leaders to pay more attention to climate change. Some shoes had letters, some drawings, and a few even had real plants growing out of them. A few of the shoes belonged to some celebrities including Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, and Ban-Ki Moon, the United Nations secretary general.

Here are two videos. One is about the greenhouse effect and the other about climate change.

Did you know?

Paris is nicknamed the “City of Light”.

Image Credits: https://www.facebook.com/katherine.bradford.188 for the shoes image, http://www.cop21.gouv.fr/ for its logo, http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/ for the greenhouse gas image
Sources: http://www.cop21.gouv.fr/en/, https://www.wmo.int, New York Times, http://www.eia.gov/, http://spaceplace.nasa.gov