[Note: below is an email letter I and others received today from Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org, an international effort to move forward the effort against global warming and climate change. I will be leading one event on October 24th in Garden City, New York at 4pm. Come by if you can!]
For once, this email isn't asking you to do anything at all. It's merely sharing the news–the amazing news–that arrived about 45 minutes ago at 350 headquarters.
Rajendra Pachauri is the U.N.'s top climate scientist. He leads the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which every five years produces the authoritative assessment of climate science. Their last report, in 2007, helped set the target of 450 ppm (parts per million of CO2) that many environmental groups and national governments have adopted as their goal for Copenhagen.
As you all know, that number is out of date. When Jim Hansen and other scientists looked at phenomenon like the Arctic ice melt of the last two summers, they produced new data demonstrating that 350 is the bottom line for the planet.
But it's been hard to get that news out to the powers that be.
"As chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) I cannot take a position because we do not make recommendations," said Rajendra Pachauri when asked if he supported calls to keep atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations below 350 parts per million (ppm).
"But as a human being I am fully supportive of that goal. What is happening, and what is likely to happen, convinces me that the world must be really ambitious and very determined at moving toward a 350 target," he told Agence France Presse in an interview.
It's your work that has made this breakthrough possible. In fact, Pachauri specifically cited the last big piece of news for 350: the decision of 80+ small island nations and less developed countries to endorse the 350 target.
"I think this is a good development," said Pachauri. "Now people – including some scientists – see the seriousness of the impacts of climate change, and the fact that things are going to get substantially worse than what we had anticipated."
This news makes it much easier for all of us to push hard leading up to the International Day of Climate Action on the 24th of October (signup to start or attend an event at www.350.org) , and the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen this December.
It's clear now that science is powerfully on the side of the 350 target. Now we need the political world to follow suit. You will make that happen in the next two months. Oct. 24 is officially 60 days away, and we're building just the momentum we need to make it count.
Comment by: PT (David Alexander) (Aug-27-2009) Web site
Especially pointed in your observation is the continued dream of perpetual growth. Through heroic measures and sacrifice, we can indeed continue to dig the hole deeper and deeper. When the pumps can no longer clear the water from our deep hole, what will happen then?
Comment by: Wavehunter (William Coffin) (Aug-27-2009) Web site
It's difficult to keep up with development while hard at work. And in times of leisure, others are working hard to keep us distracted with shopping, sports, Pop Idol and Big Brother. Sadly, not only does paid work divert us from the real work that needs doing, it is often counter productive. Many millions of people spend their productive hours creating markets, designing weapons, flying aeroplanes or pumping gas.
In the news today: sales of newly built U.S. single-family homes rose in July; and orders for long-lasting manufactured goods surged, including a rise in demand for aircraft. "Obviously things are getting better," said Warren Simpson, managing director at Stephens Capital Management in Little Rock, Arkansas. Obviously they are not.
Comment by: PT (David Alexander) (Aug-26-2009) Web site
Thank you for pulling in those other pieces of information. If enough people took enough time to look at all the indicators, I think there would be the radical root-and-branch reform you mention.
Can we each look around with open eyes and then act on it, or are we all too busy "earning a living" and going about our daily lives?
Comment by: Wavehunter (William Coffin) (Aug-26-2009) Web site
Rajendra Pachauri's endorsement of 350ppm comes at a crucial time: things are hotting up and we're not doing nearly enough about it.
And a report from the Carbon Disclosure Project says the world's 100 biggest companies need to redouble their efforts to reduce CO2 if dangerous climate change is to be avoided. At present rates of progress, the corporations will meet their targets 39 years too late.
My lifelong pursuit, since age 18, has been to live more fully and find wisdom. This has involved studies with Zen masters, Tai Chi masters, and great psychotherapists while achieving my license as a gestalt therapist and psychoanalyst.
Along the way, I became aware of how the planet is under great stress due to the driven nature of human activity on this planet.
I believe that the advancement of human well-being will reduce societies addictive behaviors, and will thus also help preserve the environment and perhaps slow down the effects of global warming and other major threats to the health of human societies.