The 10% rule

When will the founder of 350.org share science on how we get back to 350ppm CO2?

For our children to inherit a planet similar to the one we knew, 350 is the upper limit for the amount of CO2 in the air, the greenhouse gas that fuel-burning pollutes in Gigatons. It was 280ppm (ppm = parts per million) before the industrial revolution. We polluted past 350ppm in the 1980s, back when I was in college. This month CO2 stayed above 400ppm in the time of year it is lowest. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot” nobody living today will experience a world with less than 400ppm again. For every 4 molecules of CO2 that you breathe in right now, one of those was placed there by human pollution. And we need to change that quick, before temperatures cook our biosphere.

Here is the math that defines my kids’ century: Earth now requires 9% reductions in carbon pollution in 2017. 10% in 2018, and rising fast if we don’t act now. Plus humans must help the planet restore 100GtC of our pollution into the ground, or roughly a decade of human emissions into trees and soil.

If we don’t change our ways… 2°C in 2050 means our kids and their descendants next century will face diseases, droughts, fires, floods, and endure wars for water and food, as temperatures keep rising and eventually wipe out most plants and animals that breathe oxygen. For the next few centuries there will be no path back to 350, because we dicker and delay. But today in 2016 we have that window open to a living planet for the next millenia.

For a start, ban all new extraction projects worldwide. By digging up fuel when we know the consequences, we commit deliberate crimes against humanity and nature. Keep it in the ground. Children are suing the federal government for extraction of fuels that has violated their ability to live on the planet in their lifetime. They demand justice, a climate recovery plan.

Can we stop ourselves? Can we police and disarm our industrial digging machines? Can we prosecute violators? Can we consume less?

Of course we can. We are nature defending itself, from us. Who better to stop the ticking bomb than the ones who built it? We need everyone, you and me, to play a part.

Yet green groups refuse to tell us the whole truth or demand what our children require of us. Why?  Maybe people don’t donate as much when told they have to change the way they live immediately.

9% – 10% less pollution means each year mom and dad will generate 10% less CO2 at work, buy 10% less fossil-fueled products with their pay, and burn 10% less gas getting to work. Consuming 10% less in year 1 and 2 is do-able. In year 3, 4, 5 how do you keep doing it?

Since we’ve already taken so much from the land and oceans, can clean energy save us from our voracious over-consumption? Will we extract, transport, and burn 10% less fuel this year?

The Question, for the next millenia of all life as we know it on this tiny blue marble,  this Eden sweltering in space: How can we feed, clothe, and house our communities fuel-free and restore wildness to half-earth.  I know we can do it.  How fast?

According to E.O. Wilson, we need to preserve “Half-Earth” in wildness for species biodiversity on which we depend to continue. We’ve already interfered with more than half. Can we work at restoring what’s been disturbed? Planting another trillion trees will take a lot of work and a lot of land.

With corporate power and fuel money slamming the brakes on progress, will corporations stop themselves? Maybe one day. If corporations are made of people, and those people have children, then it is only in their self-interest to stop if they want to survive. Let’s make that stopping point now, not later.

Unless you provide a real service for people, produce food, build efficiencies or store carbon, the economy might be better off with 10% less of what you do each year until we kick our fuel habit for good. The Solutions Project demonstrates how each state in the USA can go 100% clean energy, and must of the change comes through efficiency and conservation, saving the energy you don’t need.

Think about how you care for your family, what role you play in the just transition to living in honest relation with our common home. Will you transition to an essential career soon, or make do with less as we re-learn to feed ourselves?

Some jobs will get phased out completely by 2022. Industrial beef and cruise ships are done. Air travel shrinks until Boeing delivers a solar plane. To live as one healthy actor in our common home, what do we need more of?

350.org does great work. I hope green groups find the courage to point the way forward to climate recovery for this generation, not just protests, not false solutions, not 2°C or 1.5°C. Point us to the physical, ethical red line for survival, 350ppm this century.

We can do the math and we know. Our children depend on us.

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