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The Power Of 350 … Spreading The Word

Prior to the industrial era, the atmosphere was at about 280 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Now, we are about 387 and growing at nearly 2 ppm per year.

The ‘old’ (a few years ago) scientific consideration was that it seemed we could stabilize, without utterly catastrophic risk, at 450 ppm or below. This is the guiding thinking behind cutting carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050.

Jim Hansen, NASA and one of the strongest voices in climate research, came out with work stating that we must fall to 350 ppm to avoid catastrophic climate change, considering the impacts that we are already seeing globally.

350 is required, Hansen tells us,

If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted.

We face a simple challenge, as a society (and species): 350 or bust! (from the same people who Stepped it Up) is organizing ralies around the globe, from the Great Wall to the Eiffel Tower, from your backyard to mine, to call attention to the critical challenge and the opportunities created through addressing climate change.

As Bill McKibben wrote last month,

All of a sudden it isn’t morning in America, it’s dusk on planet Earth.

"Dusk on planet Earth …" Bill has a way with words, words to communicate the seriousness of the threat we face and the challenges we can surmount.

There’s a number — a new number — that makes this point most powerfully. It may now be the most important number on Earth: 350. As in parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Forget inflation rate. Forget price of gasoline. Forget grade point average. 350 is about survival of the globe’s biodiversity and, potentially, survivability of a modern human society.

our last chance; you just can’t do this one lightbulb at a time.

Change those lightbulbs but forget about patting yourself on the back for having done so.

Fighting denialism …

Yet, even as the situation worsens, there is a raging battle (mainly in the United States) about whether there is even a problem.

It is an important reminder that when we discuss how to mobilize our country on the issue of climate change, we must reckon not only with educating the uneducated and mobilizing the inactive, we must also reckon with a surprisingly large group of the active, vocal and miseducated.

The whole stance of climate change denialists has uncanny parallels to that of AIDS denialists, who deny that HIV causes AIDS.

This is a battle fostered from many motivations but one that inhibits progress, meaningful change for the better.

And, the battling from misinformed and motivated denialists achieves its ends in no small part through that fostered confusion. What looks to be complications and debates in science (rather than voodoo manipulation of Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics from Global Warming Skeptics) makes it easier to focus on other pressing issues, from the serious (Iraq) to fleeting (the latest poll on the Presidential campaign).

But, if we don’t deal with Global Warming, if we don’t change paths, we might lose the ability to sustain a meaningful modern society. We might lose the ability to have the luxury of diverting our attention to the Olympics or the missing white girl in Aruba.

We might lose the margin

Civilization is what grows up in the margins of leisure and security provided by a workable relationship with the natural world. That margin won’t exist, at least not for long, as long as we remain on the wrong side of 350. That’s the limit we face.

"Margin of leisure and security … "

A planet under stress from catastrophic climate change will have no meaningful margin.

This fact, that there will be no meaningful margin, is a core reason why the progressive crises are peak oil and global warming. If we cannot navigate a path through this perfect storm, there will be no margin for progressive causes … there might not be a margin for a meaningful modern civilization.

A simple question:

How else can one say it to make it clear that the sky is falling?

We face a simple challenge, as a society (and species): 350 or bust!

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A Siegel

A Siegel

Striving to Get Energy Smart! NOW! to help Energize America toward a prosperous and climate-friendly future.