The UN's climate conference is underway in Paris, with leaders from around the world discussing ways to reduce man-made greenhouse gases and fight global warming. President Obama urged fellow leaders at the opening session of the conference yesterday to take climate change seriously, while also addressing the United States’ role in climate change.

I come here personally as the leader of the world’s biggest economy and second-biggest emitter to say that America not only acknowledges its role in climate change but embraces doing something about it.

He cited his summer trip to Alaska, “where the sea is already swallowing villages and eroding shorelines" and "where glaciers are melting at a pace unprecedented in modern times.” The president also thanked the city of Paris for hosting the conference following the terrorist attacks by ISIS that killed at least 130 people in the city earlier this month, calling it “an act of defiance that proves nothing will deter us from building the future we want for our children. The conference is hosting leaders from 196 nations and is scheduled to end on December 11. Discuss

The United Nations Foundation has launched a new campaign in an effort to send a strong message to world leaders ahead of the COP21 Paris Climate Conference this December. The massive event will host nearly 50,000 leaders from around the world to discuss climate change and what future policies may look like. They’ve partnered with GOOD magazine to create this video that explains the campaign, and why coming climate conference is so important. Discuss

The peer review journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has released the findings of alarming new research, which claims that it may already be too late to prevent several major cities—including New Orleans and Miami—from succumbing to rising sea levels caused by climate change. However, the researchers say that if significant cuts are made to global carbon emissions in the coming decades, dozens of other cities could be saved. The researchers cautioned that they did not have a definitive timeline as to when the potentially devastating levels of sea level rise would occur. One of the study’s authors told AFP News, “Some of this could happen as early as next century. But it might also take many centuries … "We were really trying to show what the consequences of our carbon choices are going to be.” Discuss

Pope Francis is standing up for climate change. In May, the pontiff published a papal letter (encyclical) outlining why man-made climate change is an important issue for the Church. Not only is it a matter of creation care, it also adversely affects the “least of these,” he wrote. However, one major objection surfacing is that the pope’s proposed solutions could harm the people he wants to help—the poor. Some claim that giving up fossil fuels would require the poorest countries to forgo immediate needs like refrigeration and some medicines. Read More

In his 184-page papal encyclical released today, Pope Francis had harsh words for how humanity has treated the earth. “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” he wrote. "Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain." Encyclicals—papal letters that represent some of the Catholic church’s most important documents—are typically addressed directly to the Catholics around the globe. But this year, the pope had a larger audience in mind, saying the letter was addressed to “every person living on this planet.”

The pope took more than a year to write the encyclical, which was released in at least five languages and cites research from dozens of scientists and scholars. In it, he acknowledged that humans are primarily at fault for the large change in global temperatures. He argued that climate change is having serious consequences, including hurting the poor, and that developed countries have a responsibility to help less developed countries take steps to fight climate change. Slowing down the destruction of the earth will take a “bold cultural revolution,” he argued, which will require people in all areas of society to combat consumerism and structural injustices and practice responsible stewardship.

"We are not God," he wrote, "The Earth was here before us and has been given to us" ... Discuss