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Wednesday, 2 June 2010






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Global Warming: the 350 science of it

The Buddha’s word has it as “Believe nothing merely because you have been told it...but whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings - that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide”. “To be or not to be?” was what the Bard had Hamlet the Prince of Denmark, contemplate when he was torn between choices for action against injustice. Bertolt Brecht pronounced the dichotomy faced by Grusha the maid, in his play Caucasian Chalk Circle in choosing between right and wrong, with the words “Terrible is the temptation to do good”.

Unprecedented levels

Warmed up

* Sea level rise

* Inundation of coastal land

* Incidence of typhoons

* loss of bio-diversity

* increases in disease and pandemics


If one is to draw a parallel in climate science, it will be “Will the science of 350 or immediate reductions of all green house gas emissions by 10 percent do it for us?” The magical threshold number of 350 ppm (parts per million) of CO2 in the atmosphere is what’s cited as the level to which we should get ourselves, if we are to be within limits of tolerance in managing global warming.

We are currently at a level of 387 ppm. According to most climate scientists, if not brought down to 350 ppm and below, the consequences can be disastrous. As was highlighted a few years ago in Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’, increases in CO2 emissions within the past two decades has been at unprecedented levels. This resulted in humankind witnessing the hottest four years in recorded climate history of 300,000 years, within the past 15 years.

Rapid melting of ice-burgs resulting in sea level rise, inundation of valuable coastal land, increasing incidence of typhoons, floods, dry-spells, catastrophic loss of bio-diversity, increases in disease and pandemics are all cited as outcomes.

Attempts to appease

Sceptics and those with vested interest in business associated with polluting enterprises hold that, the issue of climate change to be not as significant as it is made to be by climate scientists and other environmental activists. Some attempt to appease others less polluting than them, by offering ‘assistance’ to mitigate green house gas emissions, while their own larger scale emission levels go on regardless.

To add to incidents of misery of natural disasters such as gushing of volcanic ash from the Icelandic volcano, for weeks now, our ocean and US’s coasts around the Gulf of Mexico is polluted with spilling oil from a drill point of British Petroleum’s offshore oil extraction rig, which they have still failed to stop.

Citizen action

Amidst all of the turmoil, there is some good news in the air. Unable to bear the inaction of our political and business leadership, on mitigating causes for global warming, several significant global citizens’ movements have now taken root to call on action by ordinary folk, such as you and I. My intent today, is to bring two such movements to your attention.

I do it with a call for you to examine the validity of what they stand for, and once convinced, to join in to act, both as individuals and in unison with all others, to ensure that we bring sanity into our wasteful lifestyles.

Step it up

First it is the movement 350.org (www.350.org). Founded in the world’s largest CO2 emitter; the U.S., they first ran a campaign in 2007 called ‘Step It Up’ that organized over 2,000 rallies at iconic places within the United States. These helped convince many political leaders, including then Senator Barack Obama, to adopt the common call to action of cutting carbon emissions to 80 percent of current levels by 2050. Today, it has grown to be a strong global movement with participation of several million people.

CO2 emissions making a gloomy globe.

In 2009, 350.org organized a global day of climate action with over 5,200 actions in 181 countries, which according to CNN was “the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.”

The other is the UK based offshoot of the box-office hit global warming based movie ‘Age of Stupid’; ‘10:10 Global Campaign’.

An action group set up a little over a year ago details of which can be found at the website ‘www.1010global.org/global’. According to a recent media release by the campaign “Within 48 hours of getting into office, the (new) UK Government signed up to 10:10.

Meaning that all the Government departments will have to produce 10 percent less emissions than last year, adding up to a staggering 600,000 tons of CO2 not being pumped into the atmosphere - equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road”. There are many other similar achievements to their credit including a strong consumer driven austerity movement that has been launched.

Less greed

Most conventional international media outfits are strangely silent on the pledges made by a group of nations led by President Obama at the Copenhagen Summit last December. Scientists and activists hold that the score-cards of nations will need to be closely scrutinized if we are to support Mother Nature, regain her health. We can not wait for more and more talk-shops and more and more probes, for time, according to them is running out on us.

It is no longer a ‘To be or not to be?’ situation. We as global citizens need to act now and act fast ‘to do good’ both in our individual capacities and as collective entities. We need to do our bit with critical examination of our positions, to save the only planet we have to live and for those yet to be born. Simply put, as nations or as individuals, we now need to seek lifestyles driven by less greed, focused more on essential needs.



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