For a long time now, James Hansen, chief NASA climatologist has been something of a voice in the dark, saying that, to avoid cataclysmic climate change, we must stabilize the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at no more than 350 parts per million (ppm). That is to say, essentially, that for every one million pounds of atmosphere, no more than 350 of them can be made up of carbon dioxide.
Hansen's analysis, by the way, is the basis for 350.org's worldwide day of action on October 24, when they hope millions of us around the world will turn out and let our leaders know that we believe in the 350 ppm standard.
There has been something of an uphill battle on the 350 thing up until now, because: 1. It requires huge amount of change, and 2. The International Panel on Climate Change (whose science was out of date) had called for a standard of only 450. (I, by the way, have been supporting the 350 standard for a long time and have both lobbied my local congressman for it and wrote my own piece of citizen's climate legislation in support of it.)
Anyway, today represents and important step forward. The head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, basically came out in support of the 350 standard. He said:
"But as a human being I am fully supportive of that goal. What is happening, and what is likely to happen, convinces me that the world must be really ambitious and very determined at moving toward a 350 target," he told Agence France Presse in an interview.
The trick now is to make sure politicians around the world hear the message. More than ever, Dr Pachauri's announcement reminds us that we must all turn out on October 24 to make sure they do. Click here to find your local action. I'll be there. Will you?
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.