COP26 is the 2021 United Nations climate change conference. This year was the 26th annual summit – giving it the name COP26. For nearly three decades, the UN has been bringing together almost every country on earth for global climate summits – called COPs – which stands for ‘Conference of the Parties.’ In that time, climate change has gone from being a fringe issue to a global priority. The UN held this year’s conference in Glasgow, Scotland, the birthplace of Adam Smith. Adam Smith is the father of free enterprise economics, and COP26 represents the antithesis of free-market economics. The theme of this year’s conference is “what should countries do to tackle the problem of climate change.” Notice that the topic is “climate change” and not “global warming.” We can’t prove that we have a problem with global warming or global cooling, so all we can say is the climate changes over time.
COP26 was a continuation of COP21, which took place in Paris 2015. For the first time, something momentous happened: every country agreed to work together to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees and aim for 1.5 degrees, adapt to the impacts of a changing climate and make money available to deliver on these aims. Under the Paris Agreement, countries committed themselves to reducing their carbon emissions. They agreed that they would come back with an updated plan that would reflect their highest possible ambition at that time every five years. So as momentous as Paris was, countries are striving to go much further than they did even at that historic summit to keep the hope of limiting global change.
Carbon dioxide is a chemical element in the atmosphere. At room temperature, it is a gas with one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. When people and animals exhale, carbon dioxide is released. Plants use this carbon dioxide to produce food, and carbon dioxide is necessary for photosynthesis to take place. Plants derive energy from the sun to transform carbon dioxide into glucose and oxygen. Carbon dioxide in the air stimulates the growth of almost all plants on earth. So there is a symbiotic relationship between animals and plants, we need plants for oxygen, and plants need carbon dioxide. Climate change skeptics have an arsenal of arguments for why humans need not cut their carbon emissions because of the necessity of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to sustain life on earth. Something to think about?!
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