Scientists say that 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the safe upper limit for life as we know it. We’re currently pushing 400, and this Saturday (October 24, 2009) is the 350 International Day of Climate Action, a day designed to show through public action that life as we know it is something we’re interested in keeping.
The science of 350 is as inexorable as an approaching train and basically goes like this: For all of human history until about 200 years ago, our atmosphere contained 275 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Beginning in the 18th century, people began to burn coal and gas and oil, causing the stored carbon in the fuel to rise. It’s currently at 390, and is rising by about 2 parts per million every year. CO2 traps heat, and this heat causes glaciers to melt, water sources to fail, farmland to turn to desert and lakes to dry up. It also helps diseases like malaria to spread and is a prime factor in the rise of invasive plant and animal species (and growth of the seaweeds like that on the rocks above that are increasing on Michigan’s beaches).
Although Michigan is just about the best place to be in a warming, drying world, Lisa from Ishpeming notes in the posting for her talk titled Three Degrees: The Great Lakes and Climate Change that:
NOAA scientist have predicted that if the world temperature increases by three degrees, the Great Lakes will be come incontinuous, ie, they will shrink to a point where they will no longer be connected.
If the concept of your great-grandchildren walking to the UP without the need for the Mackinac Bridge (as they fight off a water-starved world probably) bothers you, it might be time to raise your voice to say that you’d prefer a different future. Below is a map of 350 actions scheduled for in Michigan. A couple that caught our eye were:
- Saginaw River Basin 350 Festival
- TC-350 Climate Action Festival and TC-350 Ball
- 350 @ The Big House (Ann Arbor)
- Bike Rally to the Michigan Capitol
[iframe http://www.350.org/embed/map/#/map/44.3148443/-85.6023643/6 550 400]
View Actions at 350.org