350: A New Year's Resolution for the Planet
by Kelly Blynn, 350.org
Last year around this time, America's most recognized climate scientist, Jim Hansen, drew a new line in the sand for our climate: 350 parts per million CO2 -- as graphically illustrated in the animation linked to at left. What's new and different about this number is that we have already passed it at our current 387 ppm, and that number is rising 2 ppm per year on average. The melting of the Arctic fifty years ahead of schedule and other accelerating impacts prompted climate scientists to rethink our climate's sensitivity to the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
350 ppm is still a relatively new concept. Many governments, institutions, and NGOs remain affixed to an old target of 450 ppm – a target that many scientists now feel is dangerously insufficient to stave off the worst effects of climate change, like a major continental ice melt that would raise sea levels several meters in this century. As discussed during the negotiations last month in Poznan, Poland under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the path to 450 ppm requires the global carbon path to peak by 2015, and if the Annex 1 countries [Europe, the U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand] were to make amaximumeffort, the "carbon budget" for non-Annex 1 countries [notably, China and India] would still be forced to peakbefore2020.
When Al Gore addressed the Poznan participants on the last day of the negotiations, he earned the strongest and most sustained applause of his entire address when he called a CO2 stabilization targe of 450 ppm "inadequate," saying it will soon need to be toughened to 350 ppm CO2. Building the political will necessary is admittedly no small task, but it's what 350.org is attempting to do this year. Next fall, on October 24th, we are planning an international day of action on climate change to demonstrate just how big and powerful this global movement to stop climate change really is. There will be actions on every continent, hopefully in every country, and they will be creative, diverse, and united on the web. We hope you'll join us on your campus! We need your help, so please join us in making your New Year's resolution to put our planet on a carbon diet to get back to 350.
Browse by Topic
- AASHE Biz
- Co-Curricular Education
- Community Engagement
- Connecting the Dots
- Dining Services
- Diversity, Access, and Affordability
- Faculty and Staff Development
- Government & Legislation
- Human Resources
- Presidents & Chancellors