If you’ve been watching television or checking your favorite web sites lately, you’ve noticed one number keeps popping up. On October 24rd in particular people around the world have been plastering the number 350 on billboards, marching with it on signs and performing physical stunts to share this number with as many people as possible. Groups numbering in the thousands have gathered across the U.S. and in many countries to spell out 350 on surfaces from grassy fields, to mountain summits, to the open ocean. Writer and environmental activist Bill McKibben says 350 is a number we all need to be aware of.
“It’s the most important number in the world. It’s the amount of carbon, that’s measured in parts per million, that the scientists now say is the most we can have in the atmosphere and maintain the civilization that we now enjoy,” McKibben said. “We’re past that number already. We need to get back to it. That’s why the stakes are so urgent.”
Back in 1988 McKibben made one of the earliest cases outlining the modern crisis known now as global warming. His book “The End of Nature,” chronicled the research that followed the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to human activity and the resulting temperature increase around the world. Today this climate change threatens life on our planet putting at risk every plant and animal species including human beings.
As CO2 levels exceed 350 parts per million McKibben warns that we have past the point where we can do nothing and not face dire consequences. Through a program called 350.org he aims to lead an international movement to raise awareness for the plight of global warming and what individuals, institutions and governments can do the stop it.
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