Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Maldives under water cabinet
On the dying coral reefs of the Maldives, the government's entire cabinet dons scuba gear and holds an official underwater meeting to pass a 350 resolution to send to the Copenhagen summit.
Seven weeks before the UN Copenhagen Climate Conference, the group 350.org is organizing an International Climate Action Day. More than 4,500 events are scheduled to take place in 170 nations on Saturday, October 24.
“350.org” is named after what scientists have identified as a sustainable target for carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, 350 parts per million–we are currently at 390 parts per million.
Global Warming: A primer
- The primary greenhouse gas responsible for global warming is carbon dioxide. The U.S. is responsible for 25% of the carbon dioxide emissions worldwide.
- Since 1990, yearly emissions of carbon dioxide have gone up by about 6 billion metric tons worldwide, that's more than a 20% increase. Almost all of that increase is due to human activities.
- Carbon dioxide takes 100 years to disperse in the atmosphere, meaning that even if emissions are stopped today, we will still feel the effects for years to come.
- During the 20th century alone, the average surface temperature of the world has increased by 1.2 to 1.4°F.
- The eight warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998, with the warmest year being 2005.
- The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment has concluded that in the past 50 years, the average temperatures of Alaska, eastern Russia and western Canada have increased as much 7°F. This rise is almost twice the global average.
- Glaciers worldwide lost an average of about 5 feet of ice in 2006, compared to just 1 foot of ice lost in 2005. Melting glaciers are a major factor in sea-level rise around the world
- Sea levels have risen between 4-8 inches worldwide during the last century, and experts predict they could rise as much 2 feet in the next 100 years.
- The World Health Organization blames 150,000 deaths per year on the effects of global warming including extreme weather, drought, heat waves, decreased food production and the increased spread of diseases like malaria.
- At least 279 species of plants and animals are already responding to global warming, migrating north to escape rising temperatures.
- Coral reefs are highly sensitive to small changes in water temperature. Scientists say if current CO2 emission trends continue, the world's coral reefs could be virtually destroyed by 2050.
"A crisis, they say, is a terrible thing to waste. And there is more than one crisis. First, is the crisis in our climate--we must figure out how to get CO2 down to 350 ppm in a matter of years. Second, is the crisis in our way of life. In the developed world, people suffer from anxiety and depression in epidemic proportions. In the developing world, over one billion people have no access to clean drinking water. We must do better. We have a chance to find an improved way of life, both for ourselves and for our planet. Let's take it."
Colin Beavan, aka "No Impact Man," is an author, and most recently, a film star of the brand-new movie "No Impact Man." The film, and book of the same title, tells the story of his bold experiment to live in New York City making no net negative environmental impact.
An island nation with a 4000 year old culture is searching for a place to relocate. Adelaide, Australia may soon be out of drinking water. Dengue fever is spiking for the first time in 80 years causing the worst viral epidemic in recorded history.
Is it already too late? We cannot reverse what has already happened. But we can put a stop gap on any further damage. We must act quickly and deliberately if we want to make a difference.
"We need to stop taking carbon out of the ground and putting it into the air. Above all, that means we need to stop burning so much coal—and start using solar and wind energy and other such sources of renewable energy –while ensuring the Global South a fair chance to develop. If we do, then the earth’s soils and forests will slowly cycle some of that extra carbon out of the atmosphere, and eventually CO2 concentrations will return to a safe level. By decreasing use of other fossil fuels, and improving agricultural and forestry practices around the world, scientists believe we could get back to 350 by mid-century. But the longer we remain in the danger zone—above 350—the more likely that we will see disastrous and irreversible climate impacts. "
from 350.org website
We have everything we need to preserve life on earth…everything, that is, except political will.
As Al Gore said, the truth is just too inconvenient. Responding to climate change with the vigor that the threat implies would shuffle the economic deck, harming powerful vested interests even as it creates new opportunities. The titans of the past have armies of lobbyists in place right now to defend the status quo.
The U.S. which accounts for 4% of the world’s population and 25% of its emissions is one of the most intransigent parties at the table. Without comprehensive climate change legislation, progress at Copenhagen will be limited. This is the reason to bring pressure on policy makers to pass climate change legislation now. Next week the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold three days of hearings to discuss the climate change bill proposed by Senators Barbara Boxer and John Kerry. If you are a U.S. citizen, please urge your representatives to support the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S.1733).
There have been some hopeful signs recently. On October 10, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., co-authored an op-ed with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., in The New York Times calling for action on legislation. In doing so, he broke ranks with top Republicans who are calling the bill
“a national energy tax.”
"Our partnership represents a fresh attempt to find consensus that adheres to our core principles and leads to both a climate change solution and energy independence. It begins now, not months from now -- with a road to 60 votes in the Senate," they wrote.
We may not have Exxon’s fiscal clout. However, not to be underestimated is the critical mass of a burgeoning movement that crosses all kinds of borders. Then again, the looming specter of extinction is a pretty compelling motivator in its own right.
As a new dawn sweeps across the globe, people will be gathering everywhere to make an impassioned stand to preserve and protect life on our beloved planet. Take hope and join in as we learn to transform our relationships to the earth and to each other, from domination to cooperation, from isolation to community.
You can watch videos and photos of people coming together in common cause.