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The 450ppm, 2 Degrees,
Change Now Imperative

By Bill Henderson

30 April, 2007

Less than 450ppm; less than 2 degrees; CHANGE NOW, this decade.

This is the new bottom line for everybody on the planet. In order to keep human induced climate change below a precautionary level limiting the probability of 'runaway', 'abrupt' or 'dangerous' climate change we must

- keep greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions below at least 450ppm. We're at around 380ppm (up from pre-fossil fuel era 280ppm) with an estimated 40ppm in the pipeline;

- so that global mean temperature doesn't rise more than 2 degrees C above the pre-fossil fuel temperature stability;

- which means we have to do a very quick turnaround immediately beginning to reduce emissions and then planning to reach 90% emission reduction by around 2030.

450ppm; 2 degrees; CHANGE NOW is as yet a minority opinion amongst climate change specialists but do the deep reading and thinking and you'll realize that there is nothing more important and that this bottom line must now impact everything we do.

Jim Hansen is the main science advocate. George Monbiot's opening chapter in HEAT is the best defining popularization at the moment.

And now Ken Ward's must read Bright Lines series at Grist takes us to the next step:

- freeing up our governance and management systems so that change of the scale needed is possible. US first; then globally.

"Averting cataclysm depends on bringing the U.S. to an early and sharp point of domestic conflict, where the global stakes are put front and center and the political power of pro-fossil fuel adversaries and the atavistic political impulses of our domestic enemies are raised to full fury and overcome. Environmentalists must foment and win a civic civil war, and do so in a way that mobilizes the nation and moves the U.S. into global leadership with a mandate to take necessary and appropriate action, without sacrificing our principles in the process."

Because business and our governments are in second-stage, containment-strategy, climate change denial. Because public perception of the severity of danger from climate change as well as the possible toolkit of mitigating options is being managed so as not to pose any challenge to the primacy of business as usual.

Because if we stay within business as usual we will fail and humanity and all that we recognize as nature will be toast.

Carbon trading or carbon taxing are useful economic instruments IF properly applied, but bet on subversion. Lifestyle change, relocalization and other potential reconfigurations of our present socio-economy aren't even considered for the toolkit. We will waste yet another decade; emissions will continue to rise, GHGs will accumulate in the atmosphere, and, carbon bombs exploding, our fate will be out of our hands.

We have less than a decade to first clean house in government, especially casting off the suffocating doctrines of the Church of Business, and then to innovate governance so that emission reduction of a scale needed is possible. Ev not rev. Forward not back. Goodbye to the cowboy economy; acceptance of much more restricting but complexity sustaining astronaut self-organization. Goodbye to the car-sprawl-growth-drawdown economy; welcome the clean energy, small footprint, quality lifestyle, close to weightless future economy. Or else we're toast.

450ppm, 2 degrees, CHANGE NOW.

bill (at)

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