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To mark its 75th anniversary, the United Nations has launched the largest global conversation on the role of global cooperation in building the future we want. However, we can't have a clear glimpse of the future without first understanding the past.

That's why the UN, in partnership with GOOD, is celebrating Leap Day, February 29, by highlighting some of the greatest "Leaps for Humanity." Both organizations believe that climate change is the most pressing issue facing the planet, so we've decided to highlight some of the greatest "leaps" humanity has made to combat the crisis.


Climate action is Goal 13 in the UN's 17 Sustainable Development goals.

"Global warming is causing long-lasting changes to our climate system, which threatens irreversible consequences if we do not act," the UN states.

via Små konstböcker N:o 17 - Richard Bergh (Lund 1914) / Wikimedia Commons

1896 - Svante Arrhenius Says Industrial Activity is Warming the Planet

The Swedish chemist won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1903 for his work understanding electricity from a chemical point of view. But an 1896 paper detailing CO 2's ability to affect global temperatures was a landmark discovery that wouldn't be completely appreciated for another 70 years.

In his paper, "On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground," Arrhenius postulated that a reduction in atmospheric CO 2 levels by half would reduce the planet's temperature by 4 to 5°C. Conversely, he also said that if they increased by 50%, the planet would experience warming between 5 and 6°C.

His article also indicted that human industrial activity was the main source of CO2 in the atmosphere.

via JD Lasica / Flickr

2006 — Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth"

In the 1980s, while in the U.S. Senate, Al Gore created a slideshow that explained a little-understood phenomenon known as global warming. After losing the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush, he took the slideshow on the road, showing it at universities and gatherings. At the urging of producers, his jaw-dropping five-minute presentation was expanded into a movie, and "An Inconvenient Truth" was born.

The film was a box office hit, bringing the conversation about climate change into the mainstream, and winning an Oscar for Best Documentary.

"The most important thing that happened out of this was that every morning show, every local paper, every national paper, every magazine covered this story [and] wrote about the film [and] global warming," director Davis Guggenheim told the Hollywood Reporter. "I can tell you that not a day goes by where I don't hear or meet somebody who says it changed their life."

via UN Climate Change / Flickr

2016 — The Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement is a landmark international agreement that ushered in a new era in the fight against climate change.

The agreement is a pact within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) between 197 countries that focuses on providing financial assistance to developing nations combating the crisis, reducing greenhouse emissions, and adapting to the effects of climate change.

The agreement's primary goals are to reduce greenhouse emissions as soon as possible and to limit the global temperature increase to 2°C.

Leaping Into the Future

Going forward, the UN looks to increase investment in the fight against climate change by strengthening adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards, raising $100 billion to address the needs of developing countries, and to improve global education on the climate crisis.

As part of its 75th anniversary, the UN wants to have "the largest, most inclusive conversation on the role of global cooperation in building a better future for all." To add your voice to the conversation, please take a minute to take this one-minute survey.

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