Sunday, December 13, 2015

Climate Deal Reached at COP21

What is the COP21?
The COP21 stands for the "Conference of the Parties 21" which in other words means most countries in the world will meet up for 11 days to reach a consensus on what is the best way to keep the world from getting hotter.

Read a little more about here, courtesy of Kristen's post:
http://aragonhitchhikers.blogspot.com/2015/12/chinas-clever-political-move-at-paris.html

What was the deal?
The Paris pact aims to limit the global temperature to a 2 degree Celsius increase from pre-industrial times, but aim for only a 1.5 Celsius increase, by the end of the century. 195  countries in the world have agreed to this pact which will start in 2020. The other main goals of this pact are to peak greenhouse gases as soon as possible,  make sure there is a balance between sources and sinks for greenhouse gases, and developed countries will give 100 billion a year to developing countries so that they have funds build an energy efficient industry.

Why 2C? That does not seem like a lot?
Not many people think they would feel a difference between being out in 75 Fahrenheit(24 C) than 71.6 Fahrenheit(22 C) weather. Although that is most probably true, this is not about your local weather but the entire Earth's. A global 2 C rise in temperature means that the entire world, atmosphere, water and land, would get that much warmer. It would take a lot of heat for the entire world to get that hot. In fact, it is not something humans are used to for humans have never lived on a planet that's two degrees warmer than it was it was before 1870. Still don't believe that such an increase is not drastic enough? As NASA has stated, "In the past, a one- to two-degree drop was all it took to plunge the Earth into the Little Ice Age. A five-degree drop was enough to bury a large part of North America under a towering mass of ice 20,000 years ago." A 2C different is a lot and could cause the earth to become hotter than any of us really want it.

Why is our world getting hotter? What is the greenhouse effect?
The greenhouse effect is when the Earth's atmosphere absorbs some of the energy from the Sun and then radiates it back out in all directions. The energy that gets sent back to the planet warm both, the lower atmosphere and surface, it is a much-needed effect because without it the Earth would be about 30 C colder. Gases from industry and agriculture are adding to these natural gases which have caused more energy to become trapped, this is also called global warming.  As seen in the graph below, CO2 seems to be what we, everyone on Earth, are adding the most of by burning fossil fuels or destroying something that would absorb CO2.  
Greenhouse gases

I like warm weather so what's the problem?
Well, there are serious repercussions of the Earth getting warmer. There would be a 400-800% increase in wildfires across the United States. Floods and droughts will become more common. There would be an increase in sea level by as much as 10 feet. Global warming would damage our precipitation patterns which would result in a decrease in food supply. Species that depend on one another may become out of sync. Fresh water will not be as readily available. Ecosystems will change and those animals that cannot adapt or move to a more desirable environment will become extinct.

Right now our Earth is at a .8 C increase from the global temperature of the 1870's. Together, I think that we can start the healing from the damage we have done to our Earth. 

Questions:
What are your thoughts on global warming?
Should more funding go into efforts for a greener industry?
Have we done/are doing enough to prevent global warming?
What are ways we can help stop global warming?
How does the car industry play into this?

Bibliograpghy:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pierce-nahigyan/what-is-cop21-and-why-doe_b_8683312.html
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-24021772
http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/gw-effects/
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-35086346
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/12/12/459502597/2-degrees-100-billion-the-world-climate-agreement-by-the-numbers

7 comments:

Brianna Panozzo said...

Global warming is as huge a deal as everyone is saying it is. As Druv stated, it can have the affects of an accelerated sea level that can lead to flash flooding, many more forest fires, and intense heat waves with growing health impacts. There have been rumors at times that environmentalists exaggerate numbers for climate change in order to encourage everyone to take care of the environment, but I don't really buy them. This is a serious problem that plagues the entire world and we need to enact preemptive strikes to climate change.

Yes more money should go into EPA spending; especially in light of the house panel's (House appropriation committee) cut of 9% of their funding and blockage of Obama's climate change rules. This seems unnecessary and may limit the ability of the EPA to do their job. If anything the EPA should be getting increases in funding with this climate change crisis ahead of us.

Are we doing enough? Participation in international meetings like the COP21 are a good start. However, it would be better if the EPA was given more funds and resources to educate American citizens about how to better take care of the environment.

Some ways we can prevent/ stop global warming include:reducing emissions, including our own carbon footprints on the world. We also need to stop deforestation, which has a deadly effect on the remaining land, and regulate pollution, such as groundwater pollution. The car industry is a classic example of CO2 pollution. If we are to combat pollution and emissions, we must start buying and selling more efficient cars, and quickly.

Information about global warming: http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming#.Vm48_korK70
The house committee EPA cutting bill: http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/245137-house-panel-approves-3017b-bill-to-cut-epa-funds-block-climate

Maggie Yeung said...

I support this effort to curb global warming in the future. This is a step in the right direction, but I don't think it is enough to prevent global warming entirely. I think the issue is that most Americans do not see global warming as a pressing issue, and some don't even believe it's happening. A Gallup poll shows that only 34% of adults in the nation worry about global warming "a great deal," while 22% worry a "fair amount," and 43% worry "only a little" or "not at all." The poll also shows that the environmental issue that Americans most worry about is pollution of drinking water, because it can have such a direct effect of people. Even thought global warming is a huge problem, it is often overlooked because it doesn't affect the everyday lives of many people which is why mobilizing support and making a larger effort to stop it is so difficult.
I think the government should be responsible for imposing regulations for emissions of pollutants because it is unlikely that large corporations and the car industry will suddenly decide to burden themselves economically for the sake of the environment.

Gallup poll: http://www.gallup.com/poll/168236/americans-show-low-levels-concern-global-warming.aspx?g_source=CATEGORY_CLIMATE_CHANGE&g_medium=topic&g_campaign=tiles

Christopher Griffis said...

Similar to as the other people said above, climate change is an important issue, it affects every single person in the world. I also think I commented on this on the previous climate change post, that the negative effect of climate change occur to distant to promote the immediate change the people, not just the world leaders, too need to undergo. Not only the disastrous effects happen too gradually for a lot of the world's population to care about. As seen in the gallop poll Maggie gave, 43% do not really care and I think it is because of the gradual change and distant disastrous effects.

Additionally I think that the allocation of more funds and this COP21 is a good first step but I doubt that it will have much effect on greenhouse gasses. If world leaders really want to prevent climate change I think they need to start environmental campaigns to rally support from the people around the world.

Finally I really like the way you made this post Dhruv, it was very clear and concise. Also it has some very good talking points.

Nevan Samadhana said...

I strongly believe that global warming should be an issue given more focus. I agree with Brianna's point that more funds should be allocated to the EPA in an effort to enforce environmental laws. I personally believe that a 1.5 Celsius increase as the limit by the end of the century is already too high of a number but at our rate of industrialization and expansion, an attempt of any sort is better than nothing at all. It scares me that almost half of Americans (43% Gallup Poll) do not care for global warming much at all and it may be because there are representatives in our government who simply deny global warming. For example, Senator James Inhofe brought a snowball into the Senate as part of his argument that global warming is not an issue that should be given any thought.

Link to the video --> https://youtu.be/3E0a_60PMR8

Alton Olson said...

I agree with everybody above - global warming is an extremely pressing issue that should be at the top of our national agenda. The problem is that the major effects aren't directly obvious and in front of us, but will be delayed for 20, 50, or 100 years, by which point it will be too late to prevent them. Rising sea levels and warmer oceans will cause enormous coastal flooding and even more extreme weather than we have now.

I think that a big roadblock in the way of solving the issue (especially in the U.S.) is the vested corporate interest from large oil and fossil fuel companies against green energy. The root of the problem is being protected by billions of dollars in campaign finances.

Crystal Lee said...

ONE HUNDRED PERCENT (pretty much) agree with everyone above.

Also, in terms of the car industry...I'd have to go along Alton's train of thought about the "vested corporate interest from large oil and fossil fuel companies against green energy." You know, lobbying, Astroturf, and such and such (though, personally, I'm not sure how that pitch would go to people who actually 'believe' in global warming: "Hello, yes, have you heard about the government unfairly forcing infringing on corporations' rights?" "How so?" "Uh, well...you know, it's all this climate change farce- hello? Hello?"). However, I don't think that the car industry is quite as hard to reverse in opinion as the fossil fuel companies. Governments, whether state or national, U.S. or other, could give more incentives to car manufacturers to create more fuel-efficient cars. I am aware that a lot of these are already in place for PURCHASING such fuel-efficient cars, but I think adding to that incentive on both ends of the consumer-supplier chain could help.

Some may notice that I say incentives and not just outright regulations. Why? Well, first of all, I have little to no doubt that car manufacturers would begin immense lobbying campaigns to fight against these regulations; especially with the current Republican-controlled Congress, it could conceivably create a significant backlash against these regulations. I think that these incentives are a better way to reach some sort of shaky middle ground between "capitalism" (Republican, free market ideals) and the rather more government-involvement perspective (Democrats).

However, if you disagree with me or just want to read up more on the subject, Bloomberg has an interesting article on why we should be giving more tax credits/incentives to CONSUMERS rather than SUPPLIERS here: http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2012-07-19/bloomberg-view-incentives-for-car-buyers-not-carmakers

Also, I have to ask a general question: we're in a period of political polarization. A significant minority of Americans believe that climate change is not real. How do you think our Republican-controlled Congress (am I stereotyping too much here? I believe that the vast majority of people who don't believe in global warming are Republicans–my apologies for any offense given) will react? Will public opinion reign supreme here, or will the Congress find a bipartisan issue to bond over?
My inspiration for this question from this small yet immensely important issue over a SINGLE VERB in the climate change agreement: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/12/paris-climate-talks-tic-toc-216721

Needless to say, it's related to our GOP-controlled Congress.

Elliot Quan said...

The GOP response has been quite amusing - climate change was deflected onto the more-pressing issue of fighting ISIS, and GOP chairs and party leaders are already set on dismantling or hindering any efforts made at the Paris meeting. As Nevan pointed out, Inofe's snowball display really says something about the current state of things.

What will be more interesting is if GOP rhetoric shifts to avoid being labeled as a party stuck in the past, or if they'll maintain their strategy and hope for the best in the election. Either way, I could see the US's part in this plan being severely undermined if a GOP president were to take office in the coming years.

It's nice, however, to see US and China at the table again as two of the largest polluters. Perhaps now that major countries are starting to get on board, heads will turn to the real issue, unless $$$ proves too enchanting to turn down.