Sunday, October 25, 2009

CO2 Emissions Raise Global & Local Concern

On Saturday, October 24, people around the globe, and in Buffalo, participated in an International Day of Climate Action, called simply '350', to draw attention to problems associated with excessive CO2 emissions generated by burning fossil fuels and ways to solve those problems.

Why 350? A team of scientists, led by NASA climatologist Dr. James Hansen, determined that 350 ppm (parts per million) is the safe level of heat-trapping CO2 (carbon dioxide) which we must get below in order to preserve climates similar to which life on Earth is adapted.
They found that throughout human civilization prior to the Industrial Revolution, before the extensive burning of fossil fuels, levels were only as high as 280. That level is far below the current level of 387, which is increasing at rate of 2 ppm per year. An intergovernmental panel comprised of over two thousand scientists has linked the rise in heat-trapping CO2 levels over time with climate change and environmental impacts that are threatening the health and well-being of people around the world. More recently, scientists have observed a connection between rising CO2 levels and increasing acidification of the world's oceans accompanying the deterioration of the ocean food web.

An international group directed by environmentalist Bill McKibben felt that world leaders must be informed of the urgent need to reduce the level of heat-trapping CO2 to at least 350. McKibben and co-founders named the group '350' to draw global attention to the science-based CO2 target of 350, a number that means the same thing in all languages. Scientific information about a safe CO2 emission target is essential for U.S. law makers aiming to cap emissions and shift to clean energy sources, as well as for world leaders seeking a strong and equitable climate treaty at the U.N. International Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark in December.

On Saturday, October 24th, people in 181 countries came together at over five-thousand '350' events around the world, calling for strong leadership and urgent action on the climate crisis. Visit to see a spectacular slide show of events around the globe. Below is a composite of photos taken at '350' events in three different countries. The photo suggests that international cooperation can help get to 350 in Copenhagen
[click photo to enlarge].
Locally, there were several '350' events. On Thursday evening, Daemen College and the Sierra Club participated in a 350 event in conjunction with a talk called "Chill the Drills", about oil drilling in Alaska and climate change caused by burning fossil fuels.

On Friday, University at Buffalo students in the UB Environmental Network held a 350 march and gathered in the Student Union to inform others about 350 [click photo to enlarge].
On Saturday, the WNY Climate Action Coalition co-sponsored a teach-in and march along with other groups, including Catholic Charities, the Sierra Club, Network of Religious Communities and the energy-charged UB Environmental Network. A report on the event was published in The Buffalo News and is here.

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