Why “350 or bust”?
“The basic matter is not one of economics. It is a matter of morality — a matter of intergenerational justice. The blame, if we fail to stand up and demand a change of course, will fall on us, the current generation of adults. Our parents honestly did not know that their actions could harm future generations. We, the current generation, can only pretend that we did not know.”
On December 7 – 18, 2009, leaders from 192 countries met in Copenhagen to negotiate a limit on fossil fuel emissions that are causing our planet’s climate to change. They failed to reach an agreement.
The best science out there says that 350 is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Scientists measure carbon dioxide in “parts per million” (ppm), so 350 ppm is the number humanity needs to get below as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change. Don’t just take my word for it – check out this link to the scientific paper presented by NASA scientist Jim Hansen at American Geophysical Union annual meeting in December 2007. You could also check out this article at Grist.org which includes a list of the scientific organizations that endorsed the 2001 IPCC report on anthropogenic climate change. Or, if you prefer the data translated into layperson’s terms, check out Bill McKibben’s blog entry, “The Science of 350, the Most Important Number on the Planet”, or this summary of the science at 350.org.
Are there still climate change skeptics out there? Absolutely! But long after Galileo got into trouble for suggesting that the sun, not the earth, was the centre of the universe, there were geocentrists out there decrying his views. And let’s not forget the Flat Earth Society. It was widespread knowledge by the Middle Ages that the Earth was round; it was in 1492 that Columbus stumbled upon the Americas in his search for an alternate route to from Europe to India. Yet hundreds of years later, in the early 1800s, Englishman Samuel Rowbotham wrote a 430-page book, “Earth Not a Globe”, based on his interpretation of some biblical passages. Rowbotham and his followers gained notoriety by engaging in rowdy public debates with prominent scientists. Need I say more? Maybe I’ll give the Terminator the last word on this: former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is on the record as saying that “If 98 doctors say my son is ill and needs medication and two say ‘No, he doesn’t, he is fine,’ I will go with the 98. It’s common sense—the same with climate change. We go with the majority, the large majority.” Along with the Governator, I’m not willing to take the chance that we could lose our planet.
I’m not a scientist or an expert in climate change. I am a regular citizen, a mother who would like to see a habitable planet for my children, and my future grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I worked as a registered nurse for over twenty years before returning to school to complete a degree in education, and I now work as a researcher and writer. If you are interested in my writing, checkout out Norval Morrisseau and the Woodland Artists: the Red Lake Years, or the topic pages on the myecoschool.com website. In my spare time I do some quilting, some reading (especially mysteries), some scrapbooking, and spend some time in the kitchen cooking “from scratch”. I love to walk and cycle, when the northern climate that I live in allows it! My husband and I enjoy traveling, and my favourite vacations are active ones, where we cycle or hike or kayak. I believe in God and consider evolution to be good science. I also believe that religion can be bring out the very best of humanity – Mother Theresa, St. Frances of Assisi, Mahatma Ghandi, Archbishop Oscar Romero, the 19th century anti-slavery movement are some examples. Unfortunately, religion has the ability to bring out absolute worst in human beings as well; some examples that come to mind are the Jonestown massacre, the denial of women’s full humanity by the Church for thousands of years, the repression and sexual abuse of native children in Canadian Indian Residential Schools, the kind of fundamentalism that pits “us” against “them”, and list could go on and on.
I believe the grassroots global movement for an ambitious, fair, and binding global climate deal is the most important issue facing the world today. As Joni Mitchell says in her song Big Yellow Taxi, “don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…”. This campaign is about trying to ensure that we don’t get to where “it’s gone”! My hope is that if you read this blog, you will go away knowing more about this issue than you did before (or sharing information that you have that the rest of us need to know), and you will be empowered to take your own steps in this new kind of PPM – a “people powered movement” that is made up of people like you and me from every corner of the planet.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead, American anthropologist, 1901 – 1978
To contact me directly, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you! Christine