Planet's environment is focus of global climate conference
Climate change coverage involves science, economics and politics. Ask students to read an article about the conference and discuss how well it explains the issues. Is useful background given?
Global warming directly affects the classroom generation. Invite pupils to find an editorial or opinion column about the topic to see if they agree with its viewpoint. Suggest letters to the editor or reader forum comments as a way of voicing their own concerns.
Reports about global warming and its impact can appear in various areas of the paper. Challenge students to list all sections or theme pages where this topic fits.
An urgent worldwide conversation about climate change began Monday on a resort island named Bali, which is part of Indonesia in Southeast Asia. Delegates from the United States and 190 other countries are trying to head off a scientific forecast of catastrophic floods and droughts, melting ice caps, disappearing coastlines and deadly heat waves.
This United Nations global warming conference is the start of negotiations for an agreement to limit fossil fuel emissions from vehicles, factories and power plants that trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere and are linked to a steady rise in average temperatures. A current international agreement, called the Kyoto Protocol, was adopted at a 1997 conference in that Japanese city (pronounced KEY-oh-TOE). It expires in 2012, so conference participants are debating a new version. Because rich and poor nations have very different political, social and economic priorities, it’s hard to set acceptable targets for reducing harmful greenhouse gases produced by from burning coal and oil.
The United States has long opposed mandatory emissions cuts. China and India reject any measures that limit their booming economies or their ability to lift millions out of poverty. "If we cannot find a way to get China, India and the U.S. on board, we will have no chance of addressing the climate change issue," said Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency. "It will be out of the question." The Kyoto Protocol, which updated a 1992 U.N. climate treaty, requires 36 industrial nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2010. The United States and Australia were the only major industrial nations to reject that treaty, saying it would damage their economies. Instead, we and Australia suggested pollution quotas for fast-developing poor countries. But now American stands alone. Australia two weeks ago elected a new prime minister who favors the Kyoto approach.
The situation: The Arctic ice cap melted this year by the greatest extent on record. Scientists say oceans are losing some ability to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide, the chief industrial emission blamed for warming. And the world's power plants, cars and jets spew out carbon at an unprecedented rate.
U.N. official says: "We are in the midst of an unprecedented and historic environmental change ... that has the potential to threaten the global economy. ... It is central to the future development of this planet." -- Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environmental Program
President Bush says: "We must lead the world to produce fewer greenhouse emissions, and we must do it in a way that does not undermine economic growth or prevent nations from delivering greater prosperity for their people."
Front Page Talking Points is written by
Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2013
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