Earth’s Atmosphere Crosses Another Threshold

by on May 7, 2018 · 1 comment

in Environment

Kilauea Lighthouse, Kauai, Hawaii. Credit: Howard Ignatius / Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Last week after I sent off my column about why I wrote Last Days in Ocean Beach, a novel about living on the border between dread and wonder in the Anthropocene, the news cycle was full of coincidental but eerie echoes. A Los Angeles Times story observed of the recent floods in Kauai, “A Hawaiian island got about 50 inches of rain in 24 hours.

Scientists warn it’s a sign of the future,” while the Washington Post reported, “’Fallen off a cliff’: Scientists have never observed so little ice in the Bering Sea in spring.”

And then, flying underneath the radar while the Trump circus dominated the headlines as always, there was this story, also in the Post , “Earth’s atmosphere just crossed another troubling threshold”:

For the first time since humans have been monitoring, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have exceeded 410 parts per million averaged across an entire month, a threshold that pushes the planet ever closer to warming beyond levels that scientists and the international community have deemed “safe.”

The reading from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii finds that concentrations of the climate-warming gas averaged above 410 parts per million throughout April. The first time readings crossed 410 at all occurred on April 18, 2017, or just about a year ago.

Carbon dioxide concentrations — whose “greenhouse gas effect” traps heat and drives climate change — were around 280 parts per million circa 1880, at the dawn of the industrial revolution. They’re now 46 percent higher.

The significance of this was underlined by Ralph Keeling, the director of the CO2 program at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who explained in the same article that, “We’re just moving further and further into dangerous territory.”

Of course, it’s not a surprise that such news was not greeted with great public outcry with so many of us so hopelessly distracted. Still, one might have hoped that more people would have noticed the painful contrast between what scientists are telling us about the environment and the heedless rush down the suicide path by the Trump administration. But we just carry on, moving from one constructed spectacle to the next—unless, of course, a sufficient number of us cause a big enough stink to cut through the noise and bring the fate of the planet that we all depend on to live into the center of our collective attention.

In other words, we need a movement.

This is what movements are for, and while there are many forms of important activism going on and lots of good people working the inside game politically hoping to bring about more positive outcomes, the one organization that I think has the best understanding that it will take a large, intersectional movement to bring about climate justice is whose local branch, San Diego 350, has been working hard to make this happen for several years now.

Please join me this Saturday, May 12th at 4 PM for the final release event for Last Days in Ocean Beach, a benefit for San Diego 350. All the proceeds of every book sold go directly to San Diego 350.

San Diego 350 Fundraiser at Torque Moto Café, 3604 30th Street, North Park. To RSVP click here

For more information on City Works Press and to buy a copy of Last Days in Ocean Beach, go here:

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

sealintheSelkirks May 7, 2018 at 1:15 pm

You all might want to read a decent summary of the results of the ten years ago TED talk given by Kevin J. Surace entitled “Worst Case Climate Change.” Then you can weep about how the only change we’ve seen happen has been the rapid increase of every single category of bad to worse of the human impacts on the climate including massive increases in CO2.

Climate Change 10-Year Check-Up
by Robert Hunziker

Then you can read reality of what is happening to the planet’s poles at arctic-news.blogspot,com

Not happy reading, folks, just science.


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