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What's the Buzz About 350?

October 12, 2009 - 12:04pm


Have you heard the buzz about 350? is an international campaign dedicated to building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the global climate crisis. In anticipation of the December 2009 meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, where leaders from every nation are gathering to finalize a new global climate change agreement, has established October 24, 2009, as a day of action for people around the world to show their support for the goal of 350.


The number 350 represents 350 parts per million (ppm), identified by some of the world's leading climate scientists as the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere. We're currently at 386 ppm, and this number is rising by about 2 parts per million each year. is harnessing the power of the internet to coordinate a planetary day of action on October 24, 2009, to unite the public, media, and our political leaders behind the goal of attaining and stabilizing at a level of not more than 350 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere.

During the past 20 years, about three-quarters of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, most of which is carbon dioxide, came from the burning of fossil fuels. Thus, it's very important to reduce our energy consumption and increase our use of renewable energy sources if we want to reduce carbon dioxide and total greenhouse gas emissions. 

350 is a relatively new target being discussed in the scientific community. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change supports 450 ppm. Yet climate change impacts are occurring at rates much faster than earlier predicted and some scientists have concluded that we are already above the safe zone at our current level. They believe that unless we are able to rapidly return to 350 ppm this century, we risk reaching tipping points that lead to unprecedented natural disasters.

At the last UN climate negotiations in Poland at the end of 2008, the 350 target began to attract more endorsers as new scientific reports and evidence of early impacts made it clear that we are already above the safe level for CO2. In his annual speech, Nobel laureate Al Gore told delegates to the most recent climate negotiating session that we must now 'toughen our goal' to 350 ppm.

My municipality has organized an electronics recycling event on October 24th in honor of In addition to collecting electronics, they are now accepting block chunks of polystyrene—you know, the white chunks commonly known as styrofoam packed around appliances, large electronics, and so many other products to protect them during shipping. Did you know that polystyrene is made from petroleum? I never could just throw these blocks into the garbage, so I've accumulated quite a stash over the years in my shed and laundry room. Now's my chance to recycle them. Recycling polystyrene is a much better solution than sending it to the landfill.

Are you, or your community, mobilizing for action on October 24th? Let's hear what you are doing for this momentous event.