Very Important Day (10/24), Very Important Number (350)
Dear fellow climbers,
We have access to parts of the world few of our fellow citizens ever see, and we have a particular set of skills not many share. We’re asking you to bring those two things to bear next Oct. 24 in a one-day project that we hope will have some measurable impact on changing the world.
Because you’ve been up high, you’re aware that global warming is fast melting the world’s glaciers–here’s an example from Mt. Everest. In fact, scientists who have drilled glacial cores around the world tell us this melt is growing ever faster, to the point where in the lifetimes of all of us it may endanger not only the alpine world but also the billions of people who live downstream and depend on these glaciers for drinking and irrigation. So far, though, the political response to climate change has been too slow.
Now, with the crucial negotiations looming on the horizon in Copenhagen, we can do something to help change that. The world’s foremost climatologist, NASA’s James Hansen, and his team last year declared that 350 parts per million co2 was the most carbon we could safely have in the atmosphere. That’s a tough number, because we’re already past it. At the moment, the atmosphere holds 387 ppm co2, which is why glaciers and Arctic sea ice are melting. Indeed, this research team cautioned that unless we got back below that number, then eventually the earth might well be ice-free.
The planet will scrub some of that co2, but only if we stop pouring more in. To move political leaders to take this seriously, 350.org is organizing a huge global day of action on Oct. 24, designed to drum that number into every head on the planet. Churches will be ringing their bells 350 times, people will be hanging banners from iconic sights from the Taj Mahal to the Eiffel Tower, people will be joining hands in great lines along the world’s beaches. There will even be 350 scubadivers down off the Great Barrier Reef, itself succumbing to higher ocean temperatures. But there’s no place that captures the public imagination more thoroughly than the peaks and cliffs that we climb. So: we urge you to get up somewhere high and visible on October 24, and figure out some way to make that number visible. Maybe stomp it into the snow, maybe hang a great banner off a rock face–you will know what works best where you happen to be. What we’ll need by, day’s end if possible, is a photo, uploaded to the web, of whatever you’ve figured out to do.
If you’re on an expedition, or the weather won’t cooperate, a few days beforehand or a day or two after will work as well–the goal is simply to take this obscure number, arguably the most important number in the world, and make it the most well-known 3 digits on the planet. If we do, then it will set the bar for negotiators. At the very least, we’ll have helped let the rest of the world know what the crucial reality facing the planet is.
If you can help, please register your action at the 350.org website and drop a line to Jamie Henn at [email protected] so we can make sure to know how to get the most publicity from it.
Conrad Anker, David Breashears, Yvon Chouinard, Rick Ridgeway, Lynn Hill, Phil Powers, Jim Whittaker, Bill McKibben