“So what’s this I hear about 21 cops meeting in Paris?” Conrad asked as Oscar ordered a drink. “You mean COP21?” “Yeah I guess so.” Oscar went on to explain that COP21 refers to the 21st Conference of the Parties, an international climate conference.
“Sounds like a bunch of hot air to me,” Conrad retorted. “I’m not so sure about all this global warming stuff anyway. Haven’t there always been cycles in the weather?”
“I’m no climate scientist,“ Oscar responded. “But every major national and international scientific organization agrees that human activity is the main cause of the warming that’s happening worldwide. Did you know that 2015 was the hottest year on record?”
“Yeah, well maybe,” mumbled Conrad. “So what did they talk about?”
“It was more than just talk; 196 counties agreed that each of them would do their part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They settled on a goal of limiting warming to an average of no more than 2 degrees C. (3.6 degrees F.) as compared to pre-industrial levels. Scientists tell us that if we go over that 2-degree C mark we’ll risk drastically changing the world’s climate and food production capacity. For example, even with just an additional 2 degrees C Wisconsin’s summer temperature average would be more like West Virginia’s is now,” explained Oscar.
“Well how do they expect to do that, by some magical hocus pocus?” Conrad sneered sarcastically.
“Actually, each country submitted an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) telling how it will curb emissions, increase renewable energy, and/or reduce deforestation. So each country can work toward that 2-degree goal in the way that suits it best. Then in 2018 they’ll meet again to reevaluate progress with the aim of setting even higher goals in 2020,” elaborated Oscar.
“So it IS about cops after all,” chuckled Conrad. “Each country will be policing itself and encouraging the other countries to do the same.”
“That’s right,” replied Oscar, “just like each one of us. We’re all responsible to help maintain a livable planet because we’re all here forever…Earthbound.” (More on COP21 next time.)