On May 5, 350.org [an organization trying to create a global grassroots movement to deal with the issue of global warming] conducted a global day of action to call attention to impending climate change. Occupy Idyllwild stood at the town monument and handed out information regarding the catastrophic impacts of climate change.
Since the beginning of human civilization up until 200 years ago, our atmosphere contained about 275 parts per million of carbon dioxide (CO2). Today, many scientists, climate experts and progressive national governments are now saying 350 parts per million is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.
Accelerating artic warming and other climate impacts have led scientists to conclude that we are already above the safe zone at our current 390 ppm. Unless we are able to rapidly return to below 350 ppm this century, we risk reaching tipping points and irreversible impacts such as the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, rising sea levels, and increasing extreme weather events.
As James Hansen, from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the first scientist to warn about global warming, has said, “If we wish to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, we need to reduce the current 390 ppm CO2 in our atmosphere to at most 350 ppm.”
Returning to the 350 ppm is not impossible. To do it, we need to stop taking carbon out of the ground and stop putting it into the air. Above all, it means we need to stop burning so much coal — and start using solar and wind energy and other such sources of renewable energy. If we do, the earth’s soils and forest will slowly cycle some of that extra carbon out of the atmosphere, and eventually CO2 concentrations will return to a safe level. By decreasing the use of fossil fuels and improving agriculture and forestry practices around the world, scientists believe we could get back below 350 ppm by mid-century.
The longer we remain in the danger zone — above 350 ppm — the more likely that we will experience disastrous and irreversible climate impacts. We need to do this for our children and grandchildren.