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Time for Kids
Dec 10, 2009, n.p.
Copyright © 2009, Time for Kids. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information
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Feeling the Heat: World Leaders Meet to Discuss
Global Warming
By Vickie An (MCT)
Last month, the president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, put on his scuba gear and dove 20 feet to the
bottom of a lagoon. There, he held an underwater meeting. The purpose of the ocean-floor conference? To
highlight the effects of global warming on his island nation.
(See picture, "Underwater Meeting in Maldives.")
The Maldives, located in the Indian Ocean, is the lowest-lying country on Earth.
Melting glaciers and polar ice are causing sea levels to rise. This is putting the
Maldives and other low-lying areas at risk of being swallowed by the sea within
the next 100 years.
What can be done? Scientists and leaders from 190 nations are trying to figure
that out at the United Nations climate change conference. The big event, called
COP15, is taking place from Dec.7-18, in Copenhagen, Denmark.
(See picture, "Obama, Barack: Climate
Change Summit.")
Needed: A New, Green Plan
Obama, Barack: Climate
Change Summit
President Barack Obama
delivers remarks at UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-
The main goal of the meeting is to come up
with a new climate agreement for 2012 and
beyond. That is when the existing plan, the
Kyoto Protocol, will expire. The international
treaty was created in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997.
Since then, it has been ratified by 190 nations.
The countries promised to limit the amount of
greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide
(CO2), that they produced each year.
Underwater Meeting in
Maldivian Minister of
Fisheries and Agriculture
Ibrahim Didi signs a
document calling on all
countries to cut down their
carbon dioxide emissions
ahead of a major U.N.
climate change conference
in December in
Copenhagen, in Girifushi,
Maldives, Oct. 17, 2009.
Government ministers in
scuba gear held an
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SIRS Discoverer ® on the Web: Document
1/22/11 8:43 AM
Secretary General Ban Kimoon's Climate Change
Summit, held at the United
Nations headquarters in
New York City on Sept.
22, 2009. (Credit: John
A certain amount of these gases are needed
to provide a warm blanket around the Earth.
Without it, the planet would freeze. But
pollution is making this blanket too thick. And
the Earth is heating up. When we burn fossil
fuels such as coal and oil, huge amounts of
greenhouse gases get pumped into the air.
The United States is the second-biggest CO2
polluter in the world, after China. But the U.S. has not agreed to the Kyoto
treaty, because it fears that American businesses would suffer.
The Great Divide
The debate over who should cut greenhouse emissions has been going on for
years. The U.S. has been hesitant to reduce emissions unless fast-growing
nations such as China and India also lessen their use of fossil fuels.
underwater meeting of the
Maldives' Cabinet to
highlight the threat global
warming poses to the
lowest-lying nation on
earth. Maldivian President
Mohammed Nasheed led
Saturday's meeting around
a table on the sea floor, 20
feet (6 meters) below the
surface, with ministers
communicating using white
boards and hand signals.
(Credit: AP
In recent months, China has taken steps to be greener. But India has been reluctant to change. It argues that it is
unfair for rich nations to ask poorer countries to cut down on emissions.
Is there hope for an agreement in Copenhagen? It will be tough, says Yvo de Boer, a U.N. official. Still, he is
optimistic that the meeting could be a turning point in the fight against global warming.
Leading by Example
While world leaders work on a plan in Copenhagen, there are many things you can do to help the planet. You
can save fuel by walking or biking instead of riding in a car. You can start a recycling program in your community.
You can plant trees. Trees absorb CO2 from the air and give off oxygen.
The people of the Maldives are doing their part. President Nasheed says his country will switch entirely to
renewable energy within the next 10 years. "We are on the world's front line," he said. "And, in a sense, we are
its only hope."
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