Oct. 24 is world-wide Climate Action Day
By Erin Crowell 10/19/09
When it comes to global warming and rolling the lotto balls, it all comes down to three winning digits: 350.
This is the number scientists believe will stabilize the Earths climate that 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere is considered the safe limit for humanity.
On Saturday, October 24, over 150 countries will participate in the International Day of Climate Action a day of over 2,200 actions promoting an international policy limit of 350ppm CO2 emissions. Traverse City will be home to one of those actions.
SMILE FOR THE WORLD!
Were going to pull off what we believe will be a well attended and highly successful public action to support 350, says Hans Voss, director of the Michigan Land Use Institute. The MLUI, along with several partner organizations, is coordinating the event.
Northern Michigan residents are invited to the Traverse City Open Space for a group photo in which attendees will assemble into a giant 350 the photo will be taken from above and then broadcast that day on video billboards in New York Citys Times Square and worldwide.
Traverse City will be the only town in the Midwest being promoted at the national level, says Voss. Its not a stretch to say that this will be the biggest day in worldwide environmental action, let alone in Northern Michigan.
The International 350 event comes prior to the upcoming discussion on the U.S. Climate Bill, which has passed through the House of Representatives and is now in the U.S. Senate. On December 10, President Obama and other U.S. representatives will take that bill to the United Nations World Climate Change Conference, happening in Copenhagen, Denmark on Dec.7-18, where world leaders will finalize a global climate treaty.
Its important the U.S. is in strong agreement, says Voss. This is a moment when you have two really big decisions on climate change and a president campaigning on global warming, patterns that are suggesting if we dont change, it could be out of our hands.
The optimal number for allowable carbon emissions comes from a study by Dr. James Hansen, who heads the NASA Institute for Space Studies in New York City. Through his years of collected data in understanding human impact on global climate, Dr. Hansen believes a maximum 350ppm of CO2 is required in order to sustain and preserve the Earths climate. So is this number attainable? Dr. Hansen addresses specific suggestions in his paper, Target Atmospheric CO2: Where should humanity aim?, and the consequences for not attaining that number:
An initial 350 ppm CO2 target may be achievable by phasing out coal use except where CO2 is captured and adopting agricultural and forestry practices that sequester carbon. If the present overshoot of this target CO2 is not brief, there is a possibility of seeding irreversible catastrophic effects.
Currently, the Earths atmosphere is close to 390ppm CO2, according to Dr. Hansen and other scientific reports.
The time for debating the science of global warming is over. We have a scientific census that its happening, says Voss. The debate is how to solve it, how quickly we have to move.
The 350 International movement is the brainchild of Bill McKibben, a writer and activist and author of The End of Nature, the first book geared to the general public on climate change.
In September 2008, McKibben visited the Traverse City area to discuss his latest book In Deep Economy where over 700 residents packed the Lars Hockstad Auditorium to hear him speak. Prior to the event, in an interview with Northern Express reporter Anne Stanton (Planet Prophet, 8/18/09), McKibben first addressed his involvement in the 350 Project, which he shared with the Traverse City audience.
(McKibben) was so impressed by the level of energy and involvement of our community. He thinks this is one of the most active centers of involvement in the global warming issue, says Voss.
For this reason, McKibeen personally chose Traverse City to take a significant role in a global event an event that project 350 supporters believe will be the biggest day of environmental action in world history.
This is a moment in history like no other. In the next six months, the biggest decisions of our generation will be made, says Voss. The time is now or never to come up with real actions.
The International Day of Climate Action is a global grassroots event happening October 24. Join hundreds of other Northern Michigan residents at the Traverse City Open Space at 1 p.m. for a group photo that will appear above Times Square in New York City. Other events include a reception at the City Opera House, discounts at local restaurants and the TC-350 Ball, also held at the City Opera House. Learn more about the global event at 350.org.
Happening Saturday, October 24 in Traverse City. Events include:
Group 350 Photo - Open Space, 1 p.m.
Reception to follow at the City Opera House featuring Dave Barrons, former 9 & 10 News Chief Meteorologist; Dan Scripps, State Representative, 101st District; Bill McKibben (special recorded message to Traverse City) and Jen Sygit, singer-songwriter and Earthwork musician.
Restaurant discounts and Scavenger Hunt, 4-7pm
TC-350 Ball at the City Opera House, 7-11:30pm, featuring live music, DJs and dancing.
For a complete list of participating restaurants and more information on the event, visit tc350.org