Culturally, we are famous for marking milestones. We watch the stock market when it hits the record highs and lows. We monitor sporting events for attendance, scores, and total number of championships. We watch for highs and lows in temperatures during heat waves and winter storms. We regularly receive updates about data points and the associated comparative analysis.
Over the last few weeks, the number of stories in the media about the milestones being reached in climate change has increased. Recently, there was a radio story on All Things Considered on the recent carbon dioxide levels reached on Mauna Loa mountain top in Hawaii. The scientists studying there have found fluctuations in the carbon dioxide levels tipping over 400 parts per million. These are not threshold points but demonstrate that the levels of CO2 continue to rise. They do not expect carbon dioxide levels to stay over 400ppm until 2014. Yet, 350.org, a nonprofit focused on carbon dioxide levels, continues to advocate that to maintain a healthy planet we must reduce our global levels of carbon dioxide to 350ppm.
Watching a video like Pumphandle 2012, visually captures the milestones of carbon dioxide.
More data milestones can be gathered from the ice cores of glaciers. “Like rings in a tree trunk, regular layers of ice and dust trapped in the two ice cores offer the longest and most clearly defined record of annual changes in ocean temperatures and precipitation in that region of the globe, according to Ohio State University researchers.” Research from their studies are revealing ”definitive pieces of evidence that show us what we’re seeing today are beyond the scale of any natural cycle,”
The data points are amassing but gratefully so are concerned citizens.
For some it’s a social justice issue. On April 26, hundreds of people gathered for a Climate Revival, just days after the Boston Marathon disaster. The interfaith group, supported with live video by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and writer Bill McKibben, marched to “embolden creation”. The next week an even larger group of some of these same people gathered to discuss how to sustain hope in times of climate change in Washington DC. This resulted in the heads of three global religious denominations – The Episcopal Church, the Church of Sweden, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) – signing a joint statement “to celebrate our commitment to hope in the face of climate change.”
For others, it is about policy. In February, 35,000 people marched on the White House to protest the development of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Their hope was to show President Obama that he had the support he needs to block the pipeline. Environmentalists of the country are holding President Obama to his State of the Union pledge where he stated “we must do more to combat climate change.”
For others, it’s making a global statement. On March 23, millions of citizens from 150 countries turned off their lights for one hour. Iconic buildings such as Sydney Opera House and Empire State building were darkened. Organizers state…”Earth Hour has always been about empowering people to realize that everybody has the power to change the world in which they live…”
The number of climate change events is increasing; milestones for numbers of people gathering to raise concerns about climate change are climbing. If thousands protest and hundreds gather, perhaps we can shift the milestone trend downward and we will watch the parts per million of carbon dioxide drop from 400 to 350 ppm.
What climate change events are you participating in? Can you recommend an upcoming event? Let’s keep breaking those informed and engaged citizen event milestones!
(Also published in sustainableroots.wordpress.com)