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Why A Movement Is Needed To Mitigate Climate Change

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday October 20th, 2009 | 3 Comments

3347453775_d45f9301a8_o“This is the fall when humanity will make some very critical decisions; both in Copenhagen and in the House and Senate,” said Dr. Eban Goodstein, the moderator of the Bard Center for Environmental Policy’s bi-weekly National Climate Seminar.

Two weeks ago, Bill McKibben was the featured speaker. The environmentalist, journalist and author began his talk by discussing the organization he founded, 350.org, to mobilize a climate change movement.

The name of the organization comes from the target set by NASA scientist, James Hansen for the level of atmospheric carbon, 350 parts per million (PPM) needed to sustain life as we know it. Currently, carbon is at 387 ppm.

“One part of any political strategy has to be building enough of a movement to give us enough of a political counter pressure to counter the vested interests,” McKibben said. The movement he helped create is now global. He issued a call for help to listeners of the seminar, proclaiming that “We will only get started [reducing carbon] if we make enough noise”

350.org will hold events around the world on October 24. McKibben described the events as “Perhaps the most geographically widespread action on any political issue that the planet has ever seen.” Events will take place in almost 300 countries, including India and China, which McKibben described as “crucial countries.”

The events will include rallies, and churches ringing their bells. Other faith communities will be involved. October 24 is the day when Jewish synagogues read the Noah story, McKibben said. Images from events around the globe will be on the big screen in Times Square.

“It’s gone viral at this point; that’s why the numbers are so big. We need to go swine flu viral,” McKibben said of October 24.

“We are under no illusions that they are going to produce a treaty that gets us everything we need. There is too much inertia, and vested interests to make that possible,” McKibben said about the new climate treaty that will be negotiated in Copenhagen in December. “On the other hand we think we can push the negotiations in the direction of the science.”

McKibben discussed what will be needed to achieve 350 ppm, including a quick transition from fossil fuels is needed in order to achieve 350 ppm. “We need to get out of the fossil fuel business… Hansen’s data shows we need to phase out coal by 2030,” McKibben said.

Towards the end of his talk, McKibben said, “Even if we do everything right the youngest people listening to this call will be elderly before we get back to 350 ppm. However, he also said that we “may be able to stop this from becoming the greatest civilizational challenge we see coming at us.”

Ed Note – 3p’s Nick Aster is currently on the Northern California coast bike to San Francisco for a 350.org event. Follow along here!

This post has been edited since it was first published


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  • millionbells

    Isn’t it parts per million?

    • Jen Boynton

      yes of course. Thanks for catching that!

  • JAMES Raider


    Obama’s upcoming acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize and the invisible strings attached to it, may prove to be an enormously expensive exercise for all taxpayers on this continent. The “Copenhagen” supporters on the Nobel Committee, on the other hand, are counting on it.


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