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UN Scientist Claims 350 PPM Is New Magic Number

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Tuesday August 25th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Prolific writer and environmentalist 350Bill McKibben is heading a group of advocates that are rallying around an aggressive goal of capping the amount of carbon in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million–based on findings of (civilly disobedient) climatologist James Hansen. The group, 350.org, is gearing up for an international “Day of Climate Action” on October 24, aimed at spreading the message that if humans aren’t able to bring the carbon level down to 350 ppm (from its current 390) then, well, we’re screwed. And now the 350 movement has received an important, personal endorsement from Rajendra Pachauri, the U.N’s top climate scientist.

In an interview with Agence France Presse reporter Marlowe Hood, Pachauri said his chairmanship with the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) precludes him from making an official endorsement of the 350 ppm goal. However, he did say “as a human being I am fully supportive of that goal. What is happening, and what is likely to happen, convinces me that the world must be really ambitious and very determined at moving toward a 350 target.”

This snippet of support has worked up the 350 crew into a bit of a frenzy, because the IPCC plays a vital role in informing members of the UN on climate change policy. And with December’s UN Climate Change Conference right around the corner and its Day of Action less than two months away, the 350 movement really needs allies in its efforts to advance policy goals to support its climate goals.

So will one more scientists’ endorsement of the 350 ppm million goal–as opposed to the older benchmark of 450 ppm–make a difference in forming policy in Copenhagen? Maybe, a little bit. But certainly McKibben, who wrote a number of important sustainability books, including Deep Economy and The End of Nature, will continue to seek the support of many more scientists during the run-up to the October 24 demonstrations and the UN Climate Change Conference. Among those on his hit list? The Colbert Nation.

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