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I'd really like to know what our nation's leaders plan to do about this. Not that I don't love drought, firestorms, tornadoes and massive hurricanes, it just might be nice to do something so they don't happen as often -- but they don't seem all that interested. Maybe someone should do something about that?
Global greenhouse-gas emissions already have passed the point where the worst effects of global warming could be averted, and they are still rising, according to the third annual United Nations report on the so-called emissions gap.
Some countries have made pledges to help reverse this trend by lowering their emissions. However, the report by the U.N. Environment Programme warns that the gap between these pledges and reductions necessary to cap average global warming at 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2020 continues to widen.
"In addition we have one year less to close it," said Niklas Höhne, one of the UNEP report's lead authors.
The report, released shortly before an annual round of climate talks set to begin on Monday (Nov. 26) in Qatar, seeks to balance a heightened sense of urgency with a positive message.
"It is technically feasible and economically feasible that the gap can be closed," Höhne, director of energy and climate policy at the independent research and consulting company Ecofys, told LiveScience.
In 2009, at a meeting in Copenhagen, international negotiators agreed to the goal of capping global warming at 2 degrees C by 2020. Following the meeting, some nations submitted pledges to cut their emissions. The United States, for example, pledged to bring its emissions to about 17 percent below the 2005 level.
In the years since, nations have not made any substantial change to their pledges.
The UNEP report highlights the gap between these pledges and cuts needed put the world on a "likely" path to stay below the 2-degree target. It calculates that the annual emission rate by 2020 should be no more than 48.5 gigatons (44 metric gigatons) of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.