Why it is important to be a part of this movement?
Basically, we're all sick and tired of the lack of action taken by our government to help us reduce our carbon dioxide emissions. We burn fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, and oil to turn on our lights, run our computers, heat our homes, and get to work. Each time we do something that needs energy, we commit to long term climate change. Carbon dioxide has a long life time in the atmosphere and some of it could be around until well after we are gone, continuing to warm the planet of our grandchildren's children. We need to make our voices heard, it's time to move beyond fossil fuels.
Why the name 350.org?
350 parts per million concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is considered a "safe level" for those of us not interested in testing the planet's limits on climate change. Today we stand at 390 parts per million carbon dioxide and are seeing signs of the corresponding warming climate everywhere we look.
Why can't we just go on burning coal, oil, and natural gas like we have been?
Carbon dioxide levels have been drastically increasing since the dawn of the industrial revolution, but particularly in recent times due to the inefficiencies of places like the US, Australia, and Europe, as well as the somewhat recent industrialization of developing countries with huge populations like China and India. The day every one of the billion Chinese people owns a gasoline car, there will be no more hope. The time to change is now, before the Earth's 6.775 billion people start polluting at levels similar to those of us 300 million Americans. The year my mom was born, global population was only 3 billion! The year my grandma was born there were only 2 billion people in the world. You can see why moving to sustainable, renewable energy sources is simply mandatory.
Why the urgency?
- Last week, the Arctic Sea Ice extent tied the all time minimum set in 2007. This new norm includes a huge patch of open water that becomes exposed every summer, allowing more sunlight to be absorbed, heating up the system, plus allowing for more water vapor to enter the atmosphere, changing weather patterns throughout the Northern Hemisphere.
- Greenland is melting. Because Greenland's ice sits on land, when it melts, it raises sea levels. Large populations throughout the world live within 0-2 meters of sea level and will all be climate refugees by the end of this century. Imagine storm surge from a tropical cyclone when sea level is higher! It really puts everyone at risk. Frankly, I don't want the people Miami to have to move to Denver, I just can't stand their style. In fact, it's conflicts like this that will have us in trouble. I think that tanning and hair extensions are petty, but my new climate refugee neighbor thinks they are the bomb. Can you imagine the cat fight? Now let's imagine this more seriously, but in Southeast Asia or entire Island populations like the Maldives. Food shortages will cause more migrations. It won't be pretty. In fact, it already has. East Africa, how's that going for you?
- Droughts, fires, and floods have ravaged the globe these past few years. This all comes with shifting weather patterns, which is a result of a warming planet.
- "Long term goal" has no place in policy discussions about fossil fuel burning. We need to decide today that we are revamping the world with clean energy and take action. If we don't, the consequences will be dire.
We've been giving a consistent message for years, since I was in high school back in 1997, that climate change is happening, it is due to burning fossil fuels, and that it will continue until we do something about it. Although the media, although some poorly informed politicians, although your Uncle Yokle would like you to think differently, I speak the truth: There is no debate. The science has spoken.
What can I do?
Our politicians, the politicians of one of the biggest per person pollution producers in the world, are under the impression that we don't care about our future climate. You have to tell them that we care!
Here's how :
If you are in Colorado, you can show up at the capitol in Denver on Saturday at 5:00 and sign a petition that says it's time to move past fossil fuels. My colleague has generously volunteered to speak at the rally and there is a "green fair" afterwards. If you're up for biking, a bike ride from Boulder to Denver is taking place before the rally (350colorado.org for details, see map below). If you're in Boulder and don't want to bike, the BX bus will drop you on the 16th street mall, then you can just take the Free Mall Ride to the capitol, or pretty darn close. Let's make this event huge and make our point! The more people they see dedicated to this cause, the more likely they will listen!
If you're not in Colorado, there are events happening everywhere, especially internationally! Find an event at 350.org, attend, make it known this Saturday that we, as a planet, are ready to move beyond fossil fuels. Please, repost, copy my words into your own blog, help get the word out!
Colorado event for Saturday:
Thanks for reading,
a Colorado Professor,
a PhD in Atmospheric Science,
and a very concerned citizen.