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”.
* Sea level rise
* Inundation of coastal land
* Incidence of typhoons
* loss of bio-diversity
* increases in disease and
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.