During the second week in December, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark at the United Nations Climate Change Conference with the goal of putting together a new global climate treaty, replacing 1997's Kyoto Protocol. It is essential for industrialized countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, for major developing countries like China and India to limit the growth of their emissions, and for poorer countries to get financial help adapting to the impacts of climate change which many already feel.
In the run-up to Copenhagen, many individuals and groups have helped set the stage for citizen action.
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Today is Blog Action Day, an annual call for bloggers to discuss one issue of crucial concern to the world. This year's topic is Climate Change. Bloggers across the world, regardless of the normal topics of their blogs, are writing about the crisis facing our environment.
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Coming up on October 24 is the '350' Day of Action.
As 350.org explains, "350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere." Although for most of human history levels have hovered around 275ppm, we are now at 390ppm–-and this number is rising by about 2 parts per million every year. As NASA's Jim Hansen has pointed out, above 350 we will no longer have a planet "similar to the one on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted."
As long as we stay above the 350ppm border, we risk reaching tipping points and irreversible impacts such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and major methane releases from increased permafrost melt.
The brilliant Bill McKibben puts it this way: "It's not as if we have a choice. The most useful thing about having a number is that it forces us to grow up, to realize that the negotiations that will happen later this fall in Copenhagen aren't really about what we want to do, or what the Chinese want to do, or what Exxon Mobil wants to do. They're about what physics and chemistry want to do: the physical world has set its bottom line at 350, and it's not likely to budge."
To help our world leaders understand how essential it is to come up with a climate plan that includes cuts significant enough to reach that 350ppm boundary, 350.org has organized a Day of Action. Groups all over the world will participate, representing their support for this target. As the organization says, "We're calling on people around the world to organize an action on October 24 incorporating the number 350 at an iconic place in their community, and then upload a photo of their event to 350.org website. We'll collect these images from around the world and, with your help, deliver them to the media and world leaders. Together, we can show our world and it's decision-makers just how big, beautiful, and unified the climate movement really is." Check out some of the creative ways people have gotten together before on this issue.
Using this map, you can find a group near you to join on the 24th.
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