Climate doom vs positive change

Went along to see Bill McKibben of 350.org speak last week. A global warming expert with 25 years of research and activism in the field, he was refreshingly straightforward and inspiring.

The last 18 months of climate developments have basically been massive acceleration worse than any predictions, creating panic at the cutting edge of climate science.

McKibben’s essential message was as follows. According to the leading climate scientist alive, NASA’s James Hansen, any greater volume of carbon in the atmosphere than 350 parts per million (ppm) is “incompatible with human civilization.”

Currently, carbon is at 387ppm. We need fundamental change in our energy systems by 2012 to avert the worst of the disaster. So we need urgent action now.

He suggests the best way to do this is by attaching a price to carbon pollution that reflects the harm and risk. Why would this work? When petrol prices spiked last year, doubling in the USA, for the first time ever, fossil fuel consumption in the USA dropped. The economic lever is the one that works, so use it.

An international global political agreement is the only way to achieve realistic pricing of carbon emissions.

In December this year, in Copenhagen, the successor to the Kyoto protocols will be negotiated. He views this as our last chance to get it right. If we don’t get an international agreement that makes substantial positive change to our habits, the environmental outcomes will be locked in.

This proposal is currently way out of the discourse of the relevant decision makers. How can we make this change happen?

His answer is build a movement. Fast. The story of 350.org’s growth is pretty inspiring. Internet + raised awareness + participation = movement.

350’s specific proposal is a global day of action on October 24, following up on their earlier motifs. The idea being to get as many groups locally all over the world representing the 350 message in a visual form, to be funnelled live to the UN, hopefully making it impossible for decision makers to be unaware of the world’s willingness for environmental and energy change, even at monetary cost.

Other mechanisms will be required – specific targeting of decision makers, and a whole host of media savvy to get this out there. But on the whole it is a coherent, simple, and practical plan. So yeah. We of the dancing moose endorse this.

NZ local groups are coordinated through 350.org.nz. Coincidentally, thanks to the global date line, images from NZ will be the first seen at the UN…

2 Responses to “Climate doom vs positive change”

  1.   michael
    May 10th, 2009 | 9:40 am

    Gloom.

  2. August 12th, 2009 | 12:41 pm

    […] So after all the consultations, the government announced their plan to deal with climate change, with the announcement of 10% emissions reduction – maybe 20% if the rest of the world plays ball first. Never mind that Germany and Scotland have opted for 40% or higher. Never mind that the science says less than 40% is incommensurate with ongoing human civilisation. […]