It can if that number is 350. That’s the safe upper limit of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere: 350 parts per million (ppm). It’s also the rallying cry of a creative campaign to raise awareness of the climate crisis and build grassroots support for the 2009 Climate Conference in Copenhagen. 350.org wants communities around the world to join together on October 24 for an International Day of Climate Action. You can join with your church, your school, or your friends and do something to visibly get the word out about 350. [See the latest video from 350.org]
Already, churches are ringing their bells 350 times and Buddhist monks have formed a huge 350 with their bodies against the backdrop of the Himalayas. People are baking 350 cakes, planting 3,500 trees, and doing whatever they can to spread the word about 350. On October 24 it’ll get even bigger with events from the Taj Mahal to the Great Barrier Reef. Over a thousand groups in almost sixty countries have signed up for what should be the biggest day of grassroots action on climate change ever. The movement’s gaining particular momentum in the developing world where the impact could be greatest.
There is a lot to like about the number 350. We are already at 389 ppm and climbing. While there is an overwhelming consensus in the scientific community that climate change is real and is already having disastrous effects on the planet, the public is still slow to jump on board. There’s been so much misinformation spread that people don’t know what to believe. 350 slices through all that. It doesn’t ask you to make a judgment call or a moral decision. It says, this is the reality we face and here’s the line in the sand. 350 doesn’t have an agenda. It doesn’t belong to one group or one language. Or one people. It’s just a number. But a number that could save the world. So do whatever you can to spread the word about 350. Bake a cake, organize an event, or write a blog post 350 words long.
Billy Parish is a co-founder of the Energy Action Coalition, a U.S. and Canadian youth climate coalition, and lives with his family in Flagstaff, AZ.