Monday, March 31, 2008

350: The Bottom Line For The Planet

Bill McKibben is an inspiring writer, and an equally inspiring speaker. I can only call the tone of his talk last Wednesday at UNM "impassioned low key." I'm going to write about his latest project right here right now, but I urge anyone in or near the venues where he will be speaking this spring to make an effort to be in the audience. The intro to McKibben's bio contains the essential facts about this guy:

Bill McKibben is an American environmentalist and writer who frequently writes about global warming, alternative energy, and the risks associated with human genetic engineering. Beginning in the summer of 2006, he led the organization of the largest demonstrations against global warming in American history. McKibben is active in the Methodist Church, and his writing sometimes has a spiritual bent.
His new project is called 350: Global Warming. Global Action. Global Future. The website is only a skeleton at this point, containing mainly a letter from Bill explaining what he hopes will become an international campaign; but you can put in your information to join the movement and get active now and receive more information as the idea gels and grows. The name of the project comes from a paper given by James Hansen at an academic conclave in San Francisco in December of last year, where he offered a simple, straightforward and mind-blowing bottom line for the planet, the red line as it were, the point past which we are in real trouble: 350, as in parts per million carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It's a number that may make what happened in Washington and Bali seem quaint and nearly irrelevant. It's the number that may define our future. McKibben writes about the number, its history and relevance in this WaPo article : Remember This: 350 Parts Per Million.

The number has obviously been haunting him since he learned about it from Hansen, and the result of that haunting is this campaign. As we are already at 385 ppm of carbon dioxide, there is clearly no time to waste. To hear Bill speak about all this is to become a believer, a believer that we, if we truly can initiate a global movement with the energy of the Civil Rights, the Anti-War, the Feminist movements combined and surpassed, can lower the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and avert the doomsday scenario. As Bill's letter on the 350.org site says:

Everyone on earth, from the smallest village to the cushiest corner office, needs to know what 350 means. The movement to spread that number needs to be beautiful, creative, and unstoppable.
Joint the movement, tell your friends, talk to your kids - this is an idea that will need imagination and creativity, something kids are best at - spread the word every way you can. the time is now, the moment is here, you are the one who can do this. You, and me, and everyone we know.

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posted at 11:59:00 AM by marigolds2

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