Representatives from 195 countries, including the United States, China and India, are meeting in Paris this week to discuss plans for mitigating climate change, an increasingly pressing issue for many countries, especially those in warmer climates. Scientists are reporting increased frequency and intensity of droughts, floods, wildfires and storms, placing property, crops, ecosystems and human lives at risk.
What follows are images of what governments around the world are facing.
— By CNBC's Robert Ferris
Posted 1 Dec. 2015
A young boy from the remote Turkana tribe in Northern Kenya stands on a dried river bed near Lodwar. More than 23 million people in East Africa are experiencing shortages of water and food, in part due to extensive drought.
Droughts are a global problem. Much of Europe is experiencing some form of drought, and the problem has affected wine production in Spain. This year, the El Nino climate pattern has brought some relief to California and the U.S. Southwest. By the end of October, conditions had improved in parts of the Russia and Central Asia, according to the Global Drought Information System.
But South Asia, including India, dried out. Drought is also "entrenched" across much of the southern and equatorial regions of Africa, in much of Australia and Latin America. More than 8 million Ethiopians have required food assistance from their government, and the government of Guyana is sending water tanks and food to people along the country's border with Brazil and Venezuela.
A polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is looking for food at the edge of the pack ice north of Svalbard, Norway. Arctic ice has been receding by about 3 percent per decade, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. On the opposite pole of the planet, Antarctic ice is growing by 0.8 percent per decade, but that's not enough to offset losses elsewhere.
A man on a rooftop looks at approaching flames as the Springs fire continues to grow on May 3, 2013, near Camarillo, California. Research has shown that wildfire seasons have grown longer and more intense around the world, and other data have shown wildfires are becoming more of a problem even in northern regions, such as Alaska.
Much about the relationship between climate change and storms is unclear, but scientists have some guesses about general trends. It is possible that warming temperatures will lead to a decrease in the number of storms, but an increase in their intensity, according to George Tselioudis, a research scientist at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and Columbia University.
This would mean that storms become more dangerous, and cause more damage. Munich Re's analysis estimates that Hurricane Sandy caused about $68 billion in damage in the United States, Canada and several countries in the Caribbean. Only about $29 billion of those losses were insured.
The picture here shows bleached coral in the Great Barrier Reef off Australia's northeastern coast. Coral reefs have declined around the world by at least 20 percent, and more of them are threatened. Reefs cover only a tiny percentage of the ocean, but are home to 25 percent of all known marine life.
A survey by reinsurance firm XL Catlin estimates that $30 billion, and the livelihoods of 500 million people, are at risk if the reefs continue their decline.