What to Expect from Climate Negotiations

Scientific American

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If you were born after April 1985 you have never lived through a month that was colder than average. What's behind 27 years of warmth? Rising levels of greenhouse gases. Since the 18th century our fossil fuel burning and other activities have added more than 375 billion metric tons of carbon to the atmosphere. And we add still more each year. 2011 set another record for greenhouse gas emissions, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

In the ongoing bid to change that trend, the world's nations are gathering in Doha, Qatar, over the next two weeks. Last year in Durban, South Africa these countries agreed to craft a globally binding treaty to limit greenhouse gas pollution by 2015.

But, obviously, there is a big gap between pledged pollution reductions and reality. And having the negotiations in a country that makes its living from selling oil and gas seems odd if the goal is to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels. It remains to be seen if the world can overcome this fossilized inertia. But if we don't, even the great grandchildren of today's youth may blame us for a planetary thermostat set to ever hotter.

—David Biello

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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