350 or bust

Did you check out 350.org’s Day of Climate Action, the initiative launched by author-turned-activist Bill McKibben?  The basic idea: get people to rally for limiting CO2 to no more than 350 ppm (we’re approaching 390 presently) in thousands of actions all around the world.

If you logged in to the 350.org web site Saturday morning to see how it was going, you were greeted with the breathless news that 350.org had made it to the front page of the NY Times.  Very cool.  But if you checked again 1/2 hour later it was gone.  What was going on?  In retrospect it’s pretty obvious:  digital editions of papers are chameleons, just like blogs or Google News, with multiple “front pages” that change throughout the day. So claiming front-page news in a digital edition is way different from hard copy.

Closer to home, we had a healthy turnout in Pioneer Courthouse square, with 350.org claiming 1000 people showing up to support a long term cap of 350 ppm CO2.

At any rate, Andrew Revkin’s NY Times article questioned the reality of achieving 350 ppm, and the strategy of promoting a target without a clear pathway for getting there (enviros were upset with him for this).

Stewart Brand on the other hand, proposes some clear and controversial strategies for getting to 350 ppm: geo-engineering, genetically modified organisms and slums. Sound crazy?  Maybe. Maybe not.  He’ll be in Portland on Tuesday October 27 at Powells Books to pitch his ideas and his new book, Whole Earth Discipline.

The end result for 350.org’s Day of Climate Action is supposed to be that all the photos from all over the world will be presented to delegates in Copenhagen in December.

But what will come of that?  Won’t most of the delegates be taking marching orders from Washington, Moscow, Beijing, Delhi, etc.? Probably, but down the road 350.org could be successful, if it commits to a long term campaign over the next decade or two, with multiple branch points in their agenda, depending on what they achieve and when.  Right now they seem dependent on the continued energy of McKibben.

And if 350.org runs out of gas? Well we can fall back on Plan B: sulfates, super-corn, and slums.


One response to “350 or bust

  1. Stewart Brand also proposes nuclear power, a silly idea – as anyone who watches The Simpsons can attest. And that’s the problem…..

    Mr. Brand was kind enough to endorse my book “Rad Decision: A Novel of Nuclear Power,” the only available look at the people, politics and technology of the US nuclear industry from the inside. I’ve worked within the security fence at US plants for over twenty years, eating many donuts along the way. We’ve heard from scientists, pundits, and advocates on this issue, but an actual nuke plant is still a scary black box to most people. Regretably, press coverage for this topic has been similar to reporting on a war without ever talking to the soldiers. I cover the good AND the bad from an insider’s perspective. It’s free online (with no advertising) or there’s a paperback.

    We have a multitutde of energy choices, each with good points and drawbacks. I believe we’ll make better choices about our energy future if we first understand our energy present. I understand the nuclear part and I’ve snuck that into a bundle of entertainment.

    “I’d like to see Rad Decision widely read.” – Stewart Brand


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