NPR News

A generation ago, a high school diploma could open doors, especially to well-paying, manufacturing jobs. But today, with technology radically reshaping the U.S. economy, many of those doors have closed. The high school diploma is as important as ever — but as a stepping stone to a higher degree, no longer as a destination.

Negotiators and heads of state from nearly 200 countries are meeting for the next two weeks in Paris to craft a new treaty to slow global warming.

It's the 21st "Conference of the Parties" held by the United Nations to tackle climate change. One treaty emerged, in 1997, after the conference in Kyoto, Japan. That's no longer in effect, and in fact, the Kyoto Protocol, as it's known, didn't slow down the gradual warming of the planet.

Nearly 150 world leaders are gathered in Paris for what is being billed as a last chance summit to save the planet.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports that this is the biggest diplomatic gathering in France since 1948. Eleanor filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"French foreign minister Laurent Fabius welcomed the 147 world leaders and more than 45,000 participants as he opened the UN climate conference.

"It is the first time developing nations will also commit to reducing emissions. But they will rely on funding from richer countries.

In 2015, what's American made? The U.S. is known for manufacturing — it's part of our identity, though jobs have been lost. They've gone overseas. Technology has changed the way things are made.

Nevertheless, America is still making stuff.

And in terms of jobs, the Los Angeles area is the biggest manufacturing hub in the country. There are a few reasons why. There is plenty of space here to build things like factories, and runways. That beautiful California weather? It's actually great for testing planes year round.

Kate and Scott Savett were trying to be responsible when they needed some medical care. They live about an hour north of Philadelphia with their dog, Frankie. Scott, 43, is a chemist and designs software for labs; Kate, 37, works in life insurance.

They buy their health insurance through Scott's job, and to keep their premiums affordable, they chose a high-deductible plan. They understood from the beginning that this would mean shopping carefully when they needed care, because costs can vary a lot among doctors and hospitals.