Tens of thousands of delegates are descending upon Paris, France this weekend as a massive climate conference kicks off Monday. The aim of the 21st annual Conference of the Parties – or COP – is to bring together world leaders and come to sound solutions on curtailing carbon emissions. Specifically, this means keeping CO2 emissions from pushing temperature rise above 2 degrees Celsius (about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) more by 2100.
Public demonstrations scheduled for tomorrow, Nov. 29, and Dec. 12 have been shuttered, both out of fear of another Nov. 13-style string of attacks and because police resources are stretched to the max.
Amidst this climate, will security needs or perceived threats trump the real issues? Bernie Sanders recently took a lot of heat for his comments at the last Democratic Debate about climate change being our primary threat. But the time has long since passed to find such comments tree-hugger-ish. Even Republicans will be attending this conference, as will heads of industry including representatives from BP, who are nonetheless not allowed to discuss their security measures.
So what’s at stake? Saving the planet, plain and simple.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as well as the majority of the world’s scientists and environmental leaders, a temp rise above 2C would portend even more horrific ills than we are already experiencing here on Earth. For example, it was in the high 60s in the New York City area yesterday, and broke records in parts of New England.
And while beach weather at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is nice if one wants a suntan in late November, the reason for the warmth is terrifying. And at the other extreme, Chicago and parts of Colorado are already experiencing January-like weather.
Last summer, 2015’s, was the hottest on record; tornadic activity, hurricanes, massive flooding in Texas, and the storied drought in California are just some of the very real impacts of climate change. And that’s just in our country. Many Americans aren’t keeping up but there were also manmade impacts of global warming across a wide swath of the globe in recent months and years. The American Meteorological Society issued a report detailing extreme weather events through the end of last year, from the deadly Himalayan Snowstorm of October 2014 to the Argentinian heat wave of 2014.
Here in New Orleans, we know only too well that climate change puts us at risk. Katrina-like storms not only can but will hit us again, especially if the temperature rise continues, if the seas remain warm, and if the coast keeps eroding. Coral bleaching in the Gulf, ocean acidification, loss of habitat, and the die-off and disorientation of countless species are at stake.
The Examiner will be reporting more news coming out of the COP 21 conference in the coming days.
Learn more about the climate conference here.