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350: the Most Important Number on the Planet?

October 27, 2009


Saturday, October 24, 2009 was a day the world’s attention was focused on the number 350. According to a Democracy Now! report by Sharif Abdel Kouddous–filling in for his comrade Amy Goodman–activists from across the globe held rallies to “call on world leaders to take strong measures at the upcoming climate talks in Copenhagen.”

What does any of this have to do with the number 350? That number, according to environmental activists, represents 350 parts per million of CO2, a number which they consider to be the absolute safe upper limit for carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

According to the website of, the main organizing group:

Our focus is on the number 350–as in parts per million, the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. But 350 is more than a number–it’s a symbol of where we need to head as a planet.

To tackle climate change we need to move quickly, and we need to act in unison—and 2009 will be an absolutely crucial year.  This December, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark to craft a new global treaty on cutting emissions. The problem is, the treaty currently on the table doesn’t meet the severity of the climate crisis—it doesn’t pass the 350 test.

The significance of this day may have passed unnoticed to most of us, but activists worldwide were out in force. Speeches were made, and it was all doom and gloom.

In San Francisco, Lauren Thorpe, a Greenpeace organizer, set the tone:

Lauren Thorpe: We are going to have more hurricanes, more forest fires, and if we don’t do anything, the sea levels will actually rise. So this movement today is calling for those solutions to global warming that will prevent that from happening. And it’s a doable thing, but we have to act now, and we have to act fast. And we need the solutions that are at the actual scale of the problem, so we need strong, bold leadership from our president.

Gopal Dayaneni, a member of a group calling itself the “Movement Generation” said this at the same rally:


Gopal Dayaneni: The story of the solution to our problems begins with the communities on the ground, on the front lines of the root causes of this problem: the communities in Richmond who are fighting Chevron, the communities in Appalachia who are fighting coal, the communities in Alberta who are fighting tar sands, indigenous peoples all over this planet fighting to protect their forests and their livelihoods, fisherfolk all over this planet fighting industrial trolling. Those communities on the front lines of this struggle are the source of our solutions.

By this point, some of you may be feeling profound disappointment at having missed the opportunity to celebrate so worthy an event. In order to better prepare you for next year, the following examples of stunts culled from some of Saturday’s rallies around the world may give you an idea or two on how you can do your part in the future to raise global awareness and save the planet from overheating. Next year, for example, you could:

  • Pose nude on a Swiss glacier;
  • Climb a smokestack;
  • Scale a coal-fired plant;
  • Hold a demonstration under water;
  • Bungee jump from a bridge; or
  • Form the number 350 using kayaks, potatoes, stones, people, garbage bags, or bicycles.

If you’re still not inspired, there are thousands of photos linked to’s website (but you’ll have to find the nude on the Swiss glacier on your own) which can provide you with additional ideas for your own stunts next year.

That is, if there is a next year.

Sorry to now have to spoil the mood, but man may have already spoiled the planet. Anybody know what the current atmospheric CO2 level is?

It’s 387 parts per million.

Oops, that’s high. Very high. In fact, there are some scientists who think that it’s already too late. The 350 parts per million figure was passed years ago—and there’s no turning back.

John M. Reilly, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, thinks that:

Three-fifty is so impossible to achieve [emphasis added] that to make it the goal risks the reaction that if we are already over the cliff, then let’s just enjoy the ride until it’s over.

Is anybody else starting to feel a little warm?

  1. Cas Balicki permalink
    October 27, 2009 9:15 am

    What total nonsense! Man accounts for somewhere between 3 and 5% of the world CO2 production. Mother Nature accounts for the rest, meaning 95 to 97%. If humans were to go on a complete CO2 holiday for a year, I know that that’s impossible because we breathe, but let’s just pretend, atmospheric CO2 would be reduced by between 12 and 19 parts per million. This reduction is based on the very risky assumption that Mother Nature herself did not in a fit of pique increase her production of CO2 while humans decreased theirs. The reality is that CO2 is not pollution, but a natural gas that is recycled through plants into oxygen. The sham that these 350ers are foisting on the world is that natural CO2, because it cannot be controlled, is not the problem, which makes everything man’s fault. The scientific word for this suggested cause and effect relationship is stupidity.

    • Swemson permalink
      October 28, 2009 12:58 am

      I’m pretty deeply involved in this matter, and would like to add a bit of detail to what Cas has just said…

      Saying that man only contributes 3 to 5% of the total CO2 to the atmosphere is meaningless unless the listeners understand how truly insignificant a trace gas like CO2 actually is to begin with… Many assume there’s a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere, & that’s a HUGE misconception…. CO2 represents only 4/10ths of 1% of the atmosphere (0.4 %). The amount of THAT total that man accounts for, which includes more than just emissions from the use of hydrocarbons, is, as CAS said, about 4%, making the total of all man made CO2 in the atmosphere equal to an insignificant % of the entire atmosphere… Any one who thinks hard about these numbers MUST come to the conclusion that such a tiny amount of CO2 ( 1 part in 2,857) couldn’t possibly have any meaningful effect on climate change… Serious greenhouse gasses like sulphur dioxide which we get in huge quantities from volcanos, etc are many times worse, and the single most plentiful greenhouse gas, causes far more warming than CO2.. In case you’re wonder what that gas is…. It’s water vapor !

      But it gets a bit more complex than that…

      Man has also added some temp rise by building roads and cities… The “Urban Heat Island effect” is thought to be a major contributor to LOCAL warming but it’s not meaningful for GLOBAL warming for 2 reasons. First is the fact that the area of all the cities and towns combined is a statistically insignificant % of the earth’s area, and more importantly when man cuts down forests to build farms growing wheat and other light colored crops, the total area under cultivation reflects far more heat back into the atmosphere, than any amount that our cities and towns can possibly absorb.

      And here’s another little ditty they don’t tell you.. We always hear the environmentalists screaming about the loss of forests… Since 1950, our total forests have grown by 40%

      Despite all of the bull$h~t that Gore and the IPCC is pushing, nobody has yet even figured out if the NET effect of ALL of mans activities, emissions, cities, farmland area (& don’t forget cow and cattle farts !) is even plus or minus…

      The IPCC with their fraudulent data and statistics, predicts rises of MANY degrees, when the real scientists say that the most warming that man could POSSIBLY add from this point is a few tenths of a degree… But that’s meaningless since the warming stopped completely in 1998, and the earth has been steadily cooling for the last 7 years… Solar experts expect, that based on the normal cycles of solar activity, that we’re in for about 20 or more years of cooling which brings us where ? Read it and weep:

      In speaking to the top climate people at a major national conservative group yesterday, I gave them a serious chewing out because to date, they have been arguing against AGW, on the grounds that the cost of trying to change the climate, far outweighs the probable benefits we would get.

      I challenged this approach quite vociferously yesterday, and I think that I finally got it through their heads that

      A: CO2 is not dangerous to man in any way whatsoever, please ask if you’d like more details on that)

      B: That it is cooling rather than warming that we need to be concerned with, (warming is GOOD not bad) and

      C: That the ONLY thing that we can do about either is to learn to adapt to it.

      Feel free to ask any questions you wish.. I’m going to ask David S to post some interesting charts which help prove my points.

      • October 28, 2009 4:12 am

        Swemson: Do you have a website or blog where you itemize your research into CC and GW. If so, please advize; if not, please get one. You seem so knowledgable.

        • Swemson permalink
          October 28, 2009 9:20 am



          No, I’m mostly involved in putting together material for people who have the ability to spread the word…

          Feel free to ask any questions however… I’f I don’y know the answer, one of the people I work with certainly will…

          • October 29, 2009 6:53 am

            Swemson: Thanks for the offer. I will take you up on it sometime soon I hope.

  2. October 27, 2009 9:40 am

    Anyone who takes even a few hours to learn about Earth science relating to the climate will learn that there is NO real science behind the global warming fallacy. Just computer models that have never successfully predicted anything.

    Hint: Al Gore’s movie showed a graph of CO2 in relation to Earth’s temp over time.
    They tracked fairly closely to each other. What Mr. Gore didn’t do is zoom in and show that the rise in CO2 FOLLOWED the rise in temp by decades.

    Temp up=things melt=melted stuff rots+more things grow=more things die=more things rot=more CO2!

    Hint2: Ocean temps take CENTURIES to react to long term changes in the atmosphere!!!

  3. Sam Deakins permalink
    October 28, 2009 2:38 am

    Our dear friend Van Jones, once a trusted White House advisor, is part of this 350 bowel movement.

  4. IceStar permalink
    October 30, 2009 12:57 am

    I always ask Global Warming supporters to explain to me how exactly did the Earth warm up enough to melt the glaciers covering North America and Europe 10,000 years ago, creating the great lakes. No one can blame humans for that and it most certainly happened.

    My problem is that we are being forced to spend money via the “climate change” bills passed by our idiot politicians that we cannot afford. I am all in favor of hydrogen fuel cells and nuclear power and off foreign oil.

    My point it this even is cyclic and we cannot change or amend it. We need to learn to adapt like our ancestors 10,000 years ago. Throwing money at it diverts a resource that could be used in a better way.

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