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The Importance of the Number 350

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
25 March 2008, 2:26 PM

Bill McKibben is on a crusade. He wants to pound the number 350 into the heads of everyone on the planet, including yours.

Three fifty is the amount of carbon in parts per million that the atmosphere can handle safely without warming up and melting glaciers, raising the sea level, bringing on killer storms, destroying wildlife habitat, and all the other horrors that pop like mushrooms from your morning paper nearly every day.

Three fifty. Remember it.

So what's the current CO2 level? About 375 and rising quickly.

Dozens, scores, probably hundreds of organizations (including this one) are working hard to reverse the trend and bring us back under this safe upper limit. McKibben's thought is to get everyone aware of the 350 limit to spur them to take action.

What sort of action? On a recent radio appearance a caller asked what she, as a citizen, can do about the problem. After you've changed your light bulbs and bought a hybrid car, Bill said, the three most important things you can do are organize politically, organize politically, and organize politically. The problem is too huge, and the economic power and inertia of the present system are too great, to be challenged by scattered consumers. Collective action is needed to force government to act quickly and decisively.

(As a footnote, Greenwire carries a sobering story about how Big Energy is pouring loads of cash into the campaign coffers of conservative Democrats to ensure that they don't do anything too radical.)

Anyhow, Bill has got a new campaign just starting. Visit and be one of the first to sign up.

I am for reducing consumption for all fossil fuel. Yet wonder whether focusing narrowly on coal fired plants distracts us from the nefarious complex of big oil, factory agribusiness, big pharma and the war industry and the existing stockpile and build up of new nuclear weapons.

I am organizing the local world march for peace and non-violence ( ). Only 10% of what is spent in the world on arms and war machinery annuay can end poverty and hunger in the world. Imagine if we could redirect 50% of this funds to build human lives and protect the water and environment. We are not only the biggest consumers and garbage producers in the world, we spend more on war and defense than all the NATO countries combined. Our CIA-pentagon is engaged in many secret war and projects around the globe and causing enormous destruction of innocent civilians and the natural habitat. The Wall Street, the banking cartel and the war on people and environment is very much connected.

We need to be informed consumers and very informed activists and educated advocates. Watch the great global warming swindle documentary and do a little research yourself in wikipedia and other places. We must not be afraid to face the truth within and out.


The re-education problem starts with the fact that America has a national religion: Consumerism. It was founded by Columbus, who discovered the New World not literally but commercially. He was our first entrepreneur; Queen Isabella, our first venture capitalist.
Consumerism even has its own hedonistic holiday called "The Holidays" , a six-week orgy of consumption from Thanksgiving through New Year. Unlike Christmas, celebrated in church by true Christians, it is hosted in temples of commerce. The universal "Holiday" ritual is to buy everyone we can think of something - anything - even if we can't afford it and whether they want it or not. Its patron saint, of course, is Santa Claus.
Islam, with its 90 prayers per day, has nothing on Consumerism. Every home has numerous shrines to Consumerism called TV, radio and publications. And these shrines relentlessly recite prayers to Consumerism, called ads. (The average American observes 3,000 ads per day.) And every prayer implies that buying/consuming has no impact except self-gratification.
It's going to take a supreme, collective effort to counteract this lethal, incessant commercial media lie with the truth: Humanity is literally consuming itself to death. And as America exports its religion globally (with brutal, overwhelming military force), the climatic collapse is accelerating, not slowing. If the "350" gimmick works, more power to McKibben. We'll need everything we can get.

I think a far safer level is to have LESS than 350 ppm. The Arctic melting started in the 50s, when ppm was quite a bit lower than now. With a lower ppm ceiling, we would all be better off with cleaner air as a major benefit, and restoration of a climate which enables humans to live on this planet. As the population increases, it will be more difficult to maintain clean air. Too many cities and states are jumping on the 'let's burn coal' wagon right now--which is ultimately signing a death warrant for humanity. We are already on the verge of runaway warming.

What are you giving up to stop global warming? It seems we keep talking about it and not living up to stopping anything that causes it. Of course everybody that is losing a job because we want to stop global warming might think differently about it. Do you struggle to pay your bills Tom? I am sure you live somewhere that didn't cut down a tree or cause a hole in the ozone. How about all the homeless people Tom? What are we going to do with them? Maybe with global warming, it will just put us underwater then problem solved. More people die then it will stop global warming with a few billion less people in the world. Please come up with a backup plan.

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