Tagged ‘300 ppm‘

A Cautionary Tale – Debriefing the Bolivia Climate Conference

25 April 2010

A Cautionary Tale — Debriefing the Bolivia Climate Conference

Well, the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth is now over and its success being dissected by participants from all corners of the globe. I’ve been talking with fellow participants from North America, and have learned something important.

There is a climate change campaign that (to not name names) is named after a number between 349 and 351. If I understand correctly, this number was chosen because a climate scientist was asked how many parts per million of carbon dioxide could ensure our survival, and off the cuff he mentioned that number between 349 and 351.

Now, you remember that Upton Sinclair quote from An Inconvenient Truth? “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends upon his not understanding it”? Well, there are lots of people now so tied into this campaign that promotes getting down to between 349 and 351 ppm that they cannot conceive of — and refused here at this conference to support — setting an even lower target of 300 ppm, which is part of the official position of Bolivia.

Imagine coming all the way to Bolivia and not supporting Bolivia’s position, which is the only one backed by the science and the only one presented to date that has any hope of safeguarding our future — and refusing to back it simply because your campaign is already in place. What a betrayal! What a lack of compassion for those who are going to be devastated first by climate catastrophe!

This admittedly highly successful social media campaign has become such a brand that its proponents are not willing to let it go. They are willing to sell out future generations so that they don’t have to use their imaginations and creativity to “rebrand” their brand and start calling for 300 ppm (or even pre-industrial levels of carbon dioxide: 278 ppm).

It was a lesson for me in the importance of being open to what’s right, instead of what’s easy. Which I suppose is what our whole climate change fight is all about!

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21 April 2010

Why the Bolivian 1ºC climate change position is the only one for the survival of the Global South and for the food security of the entire world

We are here in Bolivia at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. There are several of us from Canada representing Canadians for Action on Climate Change. Here is the English version of Dr. Peter Carter’s paper on the importance of the Bolivian climate change position, the only position — put forward by any country — that has scientific and ethical integrity.

Why the Bolivian government 1ºC climate change position is the only position for the survival of the Global South and for the food security of the entire world

In 2007 the largest global environmental assessment by hundreds of scientists called the Fourth Global Environmental Assessment of the United Nations Environment Program was published. It stated that now global climate change threatens the “very survival of humanity.” Only one national leader has said the same thing and that is Bolivia’s Evo Morales last December at the Copenhagen UN Climate Conference.

The Bolivian climate change position:

  • The global average temperature increase of the surface of planet Earth must be limited to 1°C.
  • Therefore, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration must be limited (which means reduced) to 300 parts per million (ppm).
  • Industrialized nations must stop emitting carbon. This means a total redevelopment to convert to clean, perpetual and zero carbon energy for all people. What a wonderful idea!
  • The industrialized nations must extract “billions of tons” of carbon dioxide directly from the air. The fact is that climate change science has totally established that only zero carbon emissions, supplemented by the extraction of carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere, can lead to the reduction of today’s catastrophically high level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (390 ppm) and stop it from increasing further. This is the best kept secret of the industrialized nations, because it is a scientific fact that has been known for many years yet ignored.

The most important numbers in the world are 1°C and 0 carbon emissions. Without zero carbon emissions, no other numbers can happen, except higher and higher numbers, leading inevitably to climate catastrophe. (See

Why is the 1°C limit, which has been proposed only by the government of Bolivia, the only way the Global South can survive global climate change and essential for world food security? Isn’t northern hemisphere agriculture going to be fine?

Global warming and the disruption of the climate caused by greenhouse gas emissions will lead to declining production of the world’s grains. The powerful nations have given little attention to the effects of global climate change policy for agriculture and food security, on the absurd basis that their farmers will have to adapt to the changing climate. As any rural farmer knows, agricultural success depends on a stable climate, predictable seasons, and the absence of droughts, severe storms, floods, and plagues of weeds and insect pests. These and more are all changes that will predictably and increasingly happen under any continuing global warming and climate change, firstly in the most vulnerable Global South.

What do the agricultural / climate change computer model numbers say? This data is found in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment (2007). For the Global South, the production of their main grains would decline starting at a 1°C increase of our planet’s surface temperature. Developing nations must have a 1°C global temperature limit for their survival. At a 2ºC global average temperature increase from 1900, the models project a 25% to 30% yield reduction for countries in the Global South!

Also at +1°C, world food production is “threatened” with decline (IPCC WG2 Technical Report) and so the entire world must have the 1°C temperature limit for climate safety and food security.

With a 2ºC increase, food production will decline in the northern hemisphere. In fact, the 2007 IPCC assessment noted that food decline in the northern hemisphere at 2ºC was stated in the 2001 IPCC assessment! (IPCC WG2 Technical Report)

It is therefore proven that all the people of the world must fight to reject the +2°C policy target and fight for the Bolivian +1ºC global temperature limit for food security. The people will be told by their governments (with the sole exception of the Bolivian government) and by many international organizations (who support the +2ºC limit) that +1ºC is impossible and not economically feasible. The people must respond that this is not true (the economics is fatally flawed), and even if it were true, it is no reason to still “aim” for +2ºC increase and to not even try for a limit of 1°C — and our survival.

(Dr. Peter Carter is a retired physician and environmental health research analyst from Canada.)

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Climate Change: A Global Imperative to Return to 300 ppm

Climate Change: A Global Imperative to Return to 300 ppm

Before COP15, during COP15 and POST COP15, there has been a global campaign. At COP15, states such as Bolivia, and the ALBA group, and some scientists and activists were calling for parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide to return to 300 ppm. When people from the campaign were asked why they did not respond to the lower demands, their response was ‘ is our campaign’.

However, more and more, leading climate activists and leading world scientists are advocating the necessity of returning to 300 ppm.


Given that there were already serious consequences related to climate change in 1992, when at 350 ppm, humanity must aim for 300 ppm as the uppermost limit. Even in 1988, the global community recognized the seriousness of climate change. At the ‘Changing Atmosphere’ conference in 1988, in Toronto, scientists, politicians and non-government organizations (NGOs) acknowledged the following:

“The stabilizing of the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 is an imperative goal. It is currently estimated to require reductions of more than 50 per cent from present [1988] emission levels. Energy research and development budgets must be massively directed to energy options which would eliminate or greatly reduce CO2 emissions and to studies undertaken to further refine the target reductions.”

They warned that:

“Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequence could be second only to a global nuclear war and that it is imperative to act now.”

Governments, coerced into inaction by industry, industry-front groups, industry-funded academics and industry-controlled states, have failed to address the urgency of the crisis through their reluctance to enact effective legislation. Before this, the unheeded warnings of scientists go back to at least 1956.

Climate activists say the safe atmospheric CO2 concentration target is 300 ppm (see: was formed to educate the public about the urgent need to reduce atmospheric CO2 from the present damaging level of approx. 390 ppm to a stable level of 300 ppm. From the site: “ exists to inform people about the Climate Emergency and the need to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2 ) concentration to a safe and sustainable level of about 300 ppm. is informed by the advice of top world climate scientists as set out below.”

Below statement from leading world scientists, leading climate activists and respected climate action organizations. The scientific evidence at this time concludes that there is an urgent need to reduce atmospheric CO2 concentration to 300 ppm for a safe and sustainable existence for all peoples and all species.

1. David Spratt (co-author with Phillip Sutton of “Climate Code Red. The case for emergency action” (see:, 2009)

“In short, if you don’t have a target that aims to cool the planet sufficiently to get the sea-ice back, the climate system may spiral out of control, past many “tipping points” to the final “point of no return Š And that target is not 350ppm, it’s around 300 ppm. [NASA’s] Hansen says Arctic sea-ice passed its tipping point decades ago, and in his presentations has also specifically identified 300-325ppm as the target range for sea-ice restoration Š Target 300 puts the science first. Interestingly in Australia, where I am based, 350 has not gained wide appeal, with most of the grass-roots climate action groups adopting a 300 ppm target, consistent with the propositions elaborated in “Climate Code Red”” (see “350 is the wrong target. Put the science first”:

2. Professor Barry Brook (Sir Hubert Wilkins chair of climate change and director of climate science at the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute ):

“If the planet is like an oven, it’s still possible to turn down the temperature. The number is 300 and the methods will be extraordinary. In 2007, a climate awareness campaign was launched by well-known environmental author Bill McKibben. It was coined, with the slogan “350 is the most important number on the planet”. The figure refers to a target concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere, in parts per million (ppm). This number was drawn from a recent study by a team of climate scientists, led by NASA’s Dr James Hansen … But there is another, more surprising, problem with 350. It’s the wrong number. While 350 ppm should give us a reasonable shot at avoiding more than two degrees of warming, that’s hardly a safe future to be aiming for. We need only to look at the impacts at less than one degree to know we’re already committed to some tough adaptation problems Š A target of 300 to 325 ppm CO2 – the levels of the 1950s – is necessary if we wish to cut additional warming and start to roll back the already damaging impacts. As such, 350 is not a target, it’s a signpost to a goal. So we’re aiming at 350 but the real goal is 300 and we’re already at 385″. [24, 25]

3. Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research., Germany (2008):

“It is a compromise between ambition and feasibility. A rise of 2oC could avoid some of the big environmental disasters, but it is still only a compromiseŠIt is a very sweeping argument, but nobody can say for sure that 330ppm is safe. Perhaps it will not matter whether we have 270ppm or 320ppm, but operating well outside the [historic] realm of carbon dioxide concentrations is risky as long as we have not fully understood the relevant feedback mechanisms” [280 ppm is the pre-industrial atmospheric CO2
concentration]. [22]

4. Dr Andrew Glikson (an Earth and paleo-climate research scientist at Australian National University, Canberra, Australia) (2009):

“For some time now, climate scientists warned that melting of subpolar permafrost and warming of the Arctic Sea (up to 4 degrees C during 2005-2008 relative to the 1951-1980) are likely to result in the dissociation of methane hydrates and the release of this powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere (methane: 62 times the infrared warming effect of CO2 over 20 years and 21 times over 100 years) Š The amount of carbon stored in Arctic sediments and permafrost is estimated as 500-2500 Gigaton Carbon (GtC), as compared with the world’s total fossil fuel reserves estimated as 5000 GtC. Compare with the 700 GtC of the atmosphere, which regulate CO2 levels in the range of 180-300 parts per million and land temperatures in a range of about – 50 to + 50 degrees C, which allowed the evolution of warm blooded mammals. The continuing use of the atmosphere as an open sewer for industrial pollution has already added some 305 GtC to the atmosphere together with land clearing and animal-emitted methane. This raised CO2 levels to 387 ppm CO2 to date, leading toward conditions which existed on Earth about 3 million years (Ma) ago (mid-Pliocene), when CO2 levels rose to about 400 ppm, temperatures to about 2-3 degrees C and sea levels by about 25 +/- 12 metres. There is little evidence for an extinction at 3 Ma. However, by crossing above a CO2 level of 400 ppm the atmosphere is moving into uncharted territory. At this stage, enhanced methane leaks threaten climate events, such as the massive methane release and fauna extinction of 55 million years ago, which was marked by rise of CO2 to near-1000 ppm.” [20]

5. Dr James Hansen et al. (2008):

“Stabilization of Arctic sea ice cover requires, to first approximation, restoration of planetary energy balance. Climate models driven by known forcings yield a present planetary energy imbalance of +0.5-1 W/m2. Observed heat increase in the upper 700 m of the ocean confirms the planetary energy imbalance, but observations of the entire ocean are needed for quantification. CO2 amount must be reduced to 325-355 ppm to increase outgoing flux 0.5-1 W/m2, if other forcings are unchanged. A further imbalance reduction, and thus CO2 ~300-325 ppm, may be needed to restore sea ice to its area of 25 years ago.” [19].

6. Australia’s premier research organization, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), “The Science of Climate Change” (see: ), 2008:

“Since the Industrial Revolution, the CO2 concentrations have risen 37%, methane 150% and nitrous oxide 18%. The global increases in CO2 concentration are due primarily to fossil fuel use and land-use change, while the increases in methane and nitrous oxide are primarily due to agriculture. The CO2 concentration in 2008 of 383 parts per million (ppm) is much higher than the natural range of 172 to 300 ppm that existed over the last 800,000 years.” [26]

7. Dr Gideon Polya (Convenor,, that argues for a return to ~300 ppm CO2), 24 October 2009:

“Dear Sir/Madam,

24 October UN Day & 350 Day – Science says reduce CO2 to ~ 300 ppm.

Top climate scientists and the prestigious UK Royal Society say we must DECREASE atmospheric CO2 concentration from the present 390 ppm to 300-350 ppm ASAP for a safe planet for all peoples and all species. [1a, 2a].

Unfortunately, world governments and the pro-coal Australian Liberal-National Party Coalition Opposition and the pro-coal Australian Labor Federal Government (aka the Lib-Labs) want to INCREASE CO2 and other greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution. [3a].

Australia is a world leader in per capita GHG pollution – having 0.3% of world population, its domestic and exported GHG pollution is 3% of world total. Yet optimistic interpretation of official Labor policy indicates that Australia’s domestic and exported GHG pollution will be 119% of the 2000 value by 2020 and 173% by 2050. [4a].

The science-ignoring Australian Lib-Labs (US Rep-Dems) are betraying our children, the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, Humanity and the Biosphere of the Planet. Children should demand that their elders behave responsibly before it is too late and First World-imposed climate genocide destroys 10 billion non-Europeans this century, mostly children.”[5a]

8. Dr Graeme Pearman (former CSIRO Climate director; GP Consulting; interim director, MSI; Monash University Sustainaibility Group, Melbourne):

“The Earth is deglaciating. Since 1979, more than 20% of the Polar Ice Cap has melted away Š Over the last century: global temperatures risen by 0.74 +/- 0.18oC; 11 of last 12 years rank as amongst the 12 warmest years; snow cover decreased in most regions, especially in spring and summer; summer period extended 12.3 days Š Arctic sea-ice decline of 2.7 +/- 0.6 per cent per decade; sea ;levels have risen at a rate of: 1961-2003 1.9 +/- 0.5 mm yr-1, 1900-2000 1.7 +/- 0.5 mm yr-1; ocean acidification 0.1 pH unit so far Š Gases: current carbon dioxide and methane concentrations far exceed those of the last 600,000 years; increases primarily die to fossil fuel use, agriculture and land-use changes; Warming: unequivocal, evident in air and ocean temperatures, melting of snow and ice and rising sea levels; warming an effect of human activities – at least 5 times greater than that due to solar output change Š extreme temperatures – more frequent, intense, longer-lived heat waves Š Recent science strongly reinforces the views that: global warming is occurring; it is primarily a result of human activities.” [27]

9. Jenny Curtis, mother and member of Climate Change Balmain Rozelle (Sydney, Australia):

“Australia must be part of a global climate change action plan that will reduce carbon concentration in the atmosphere to 300 parts per million (ppm) and keep it there” (see Greenlivingpedia, “Australian climate Action Summit 2009”:

10. Westernport Green Alliance (Victoria, Australia, 2009):

“In short, if you don’t have a target that aims to cool the planet sufficiently to get the sea-ice back, the climate system may spiral out of control, past many “tipping points” to the final “point of no return”. And that target is not 350ppm, it’s around 300 ppm. Hansen says Arctic sea-ice passed its tipping point decades ago” (see: “350 is the wrong target: put the science first”: )

11. Climate Positive (2009):

“Why humanity must aim for 300 ppm to restore a safe climate – this report is a summary of the latest climate science and solutions and argues convincingly that humanity must reduce atmospheric carbon [CO2] levels to 300 ppm or below to restore a safe climate … As a society we are preparing for a medium-sized climate problem, despite evidence that points to the problem being greater than we had anticipated. Instead of relying of an illusion of certainty, we need to manage the risks of climate change responsibly. This means reducing atmospheric concentrations to within the range that we know the climate will maintain stability – 300 ppmv CO2 equivalent. This would rule out a domino effect of sea-ice loss, albedo flip, a warmer Arctic, a disintegrating Greenland ice sheet, more melting permafrost, and knock-on effects of massively increased greenhouse gas emissions, rising atmospheric concentrations and accelerated global warming. Any proposal for a target higher than 300ppmv would imply confidence that it is safe to leave the Arctic sea ice melted. If we currently have such confidence, it is misplaced. 300ppmv is below current atmospheric concentrations, but we can achieve it if we act now, because of the delay in how the climate system responds – if we can lower the atmospheric concentrations this century the system may never reach the full level of warming we are due to receive” (see: “Climate Safety report – 300 ppm”:

12. The initially Victoria-based Australian Climate Emergency Network CEN) endorses the position of the 2009 Australia’s 2009 Climate Action Summit (a meeting of over 140 Australian Climate Action Groups, Canberra, January 2009):

“To build community support for a goal of stabilisation at 300ppm CO2 and strong international agreement in line with what science and global justice demands. To communicate this position to Copenhagen Conference of Parties, and advocate for the Australian government to adopt that position” (see Climate Emergency Network, 2009:

13. Target 300 (Australia):

“300 ppm CO2 adopted by Victorian and then National grass roots groups Š why Hansen’s recent work shows our climate target must be 300 ppm CO2 or below Š 300 ppm CO2 or below. A goal to reestablish a stable climate” (see: Target 300, 2009:

Reference: Climate activists say the safe atmospheric CO2 concentration target is 300 ppm—return-atmosphere-co2-to-300-ppm | Dr Gideon Polya

14. The Melbourne-based Yarra Valley Climate Action Group (YVCAG; one of the larger climate action groups in Australia, stretching from Taggerty in the northern mountains to the suburban heartland of Melbourne) (2009):

“Climate Emergency Actions URGENTLY Required. 1. Change of societal philosophy to one of scientific risk management and biological sustainability with complete cessation of species extinctions and zero tolerance for lying. 2. Urgent reduction of atmospheric CO2 to a safe level of about 300 ppm as recommended by leading climate and biological scientists. 3. Rapid switch to the best non-carbon and renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, wave, tide and hydro options that are currently roughly the same market price as coal burning-based power) and to energy efficiency, public transport, needs-based production, re-afforestation and return of carbon as biochar to soils coupled with correspondingly rapid cessation of fossil fuel burning, deforestation, methanogenic livestock production and population growth” (see “Climate emergency facts and required action”, 2009:

15. Australia’s 2009 Climate Action Summit (a meeting of over 140 Australian Climate Action Groups, Canberra, January 2009) concluded:

” The united Community Climate Action Groups will campaign for outcomes on these objectives: (1) Prevent the CPRS [the highly flawed Rudd
Labor Government Emissions Trading Scheme or ETS] from becoming law as it will fail to make emission cuts necessary to stop the climate emergency; (2) Build community-wide action to demand green jobs, a just transition for industry workers and 100% renewable energy by 2020; (3) Aim for stabilisation at 300ppm CO2 in the atmosphere and strong international agreement in line with what science and global justice demands” (see Greenlivingpedia, “Australian climate Action Summit 2009”:

Joan Russow PhD Global Compliance Research Project | Cory Morningstar Canadians for Action on Climate Change

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