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Solutions to Getting to 350

by Kristen Sheeran • October 26, 2010 @ 10:57 am

Given recent setbacks in attempts to pass comprehensive national climate legislation, and with an eye to the upcoming international climate meetings in Cancun, it is important to remind ourselves what we are working toward and what we what we are still capable of achieving. 

The following is an excerpt from an article authored by E3 economists in the special issue “Getting to 350″ of  the new (and highly recommended) journal Solutions:

Stopping global warming and protecting the Earth’s climate is a daunting challenge. To avert a crisis, we must develop petroleum-free transportation, dramatically change how we create and use energy, and much more. These changes carry a cost, and especially in difficult times there is strong resistance to spending very much at all to protect the planet. Many think moving too aggressively could lead to economic disaster. Some economists advocate only slow, gradual responses to climate change, lest the costs of mitigation become too large.

The physical science of the atmosphere is not determined by cautious economists, however. The more CO2, the hotter the world will get, the faster sea level will rise, and the more erratic our weather patterns will become. Doubling the amount of CO2 that was in the air before the Industrial Revolution—from 280 parts per million (ppm) in 1750 up to 560 ppm, a milestone we will reach in a matter of decades under business as usual—could raise the average global temperature by 3 °C (5.4 °F); newer studies actually project increases of up to 6 °C (11 °F).

To protect our planet, we propose setting a target of 350 ppm and taking prompt, decisive action to enable us to attain that goal. (more)

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