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Adding more GHG layers topping 408ppm when we should be stripping down to 350ppm & below

January 28th, 2017 · No Comments

As Donald Trump continues to drive news cycles with #AlternativeFacts and installs perhaps the most anti-#science government that modern human history has seen in a major government (and this comment re ‘perhaps’ is that jury is out in comparison with Stalin’s Soviet Union and Hitler’s Nazi Germany: both of which had serious anti-science elements (lunacies) but yet had major elements of policy and investments based on serious science), physical reality exists and the physical world in which humanity exists continues to change.

As the U.S. 2016 election essentially ignored climate change — with, for example, zero questions in any Presidential debate on what was perhaps the most significant policy issue with the starkest contrast between the candidates and the parties — the real world passed a threshold that far, far too few Americans realized: the atmosphere passed the 400 parts per million (ppm) concentration of carbon dioxide (C02) with near certainty that no human alive will ever see concentrations below that figure (outside an oxygen tent or other artificial environment).

My thoughts turned to that yesterday as I saw the following:

With the Oval Office dominated by (neo)Nazi (climate) science deniers, climate-denial political appointees spreading through the government, warnings of purges to come of government employees who understand climate science, and spreading blackouts on sharing of basic information on the climate, the real world exists … and the climate situation worsens.

When it comes to Climate Change (science), the GOP & Trump path is clear: Ignoring, denying, & suppressing discussion of reality:

At the best, when it comes to climate science, Trump flings #AlternativeFacts dung like a monkey and the GOP machine operates on a bastardized version of the three monkeys admonishing to ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’.

As the nation watches the Trumpian GOP anti-science agenda go into action and the momentum to a Scientists March on Washington accelerates, the climate situation worsens.

Seeing that 408ppm figure yesterday struck me … reminded me that physical reality marches on even as #WomensMarch brought millions of Americans to the streets with 100s of marches in what might have been the largest US political demonstration in history (to date … we do not know what will come as the resistance to the Trump regime mounts).

It also reminded me of the below, when some of the world’s top supermodels ‘took it off’ for climate action — stripped to the bare basics with a promise of more — back in fall 2009 in a symbolic showing of the necessity to start stripping down the excess human-added layers of greenhouse gas (GHG) in the atmosphere.

The video, as you will see, ends with this line:

So this is what 352 parts per million looks like. If you want to see 350 parts per million, our natural state, then you have to get your politicians to act now.

Okay, some caveats and thoughts.

Natural State?

Who ever said that 350 parts per million (ppm) is our “natural state”? After all, the past million years or so has CO2 levels see-sawed between roughly 180 and 285 parts per million. E.g., through a period roughly 15 times longer than homo homo sapiens have existed (e.g, ‘modern humans’) and five times longer than homo sapiens, ‘natural’ CO2 levels never exceeded 20% below the targeted 350 ppm. 350 is

  • truly a ‘ball park’ figure. What is real difference between 346.413 and 350 or 350 and 355.743?  Just as crashing through (and putting behind) the 400ppm barrier (unless we have significant change) was ‘symbolic’ (while substantive), so 350 is ‘symbol’ as the ball park of a healthier co2 concentration rather than specific.
  • a ‘best estimate’ from scientific specialists as an upper bound, best calculation as to the safe level of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere for a prosperous human civilization amid a relatively stable climate system.

Right now, humanity is adding enough Co2 into the carbon cycle (mainly, but not solely, from burning fossil fuels) to add over 2 ppm per year. We need to drive down our emissions that drive increased CO2 levels and then continue the process so that we are actually reducing CO2 levels.

And, well, who is to quibble with these women as to what is their ‘natural state’?

And, ask yourself:

Do you want to get to 350 as badly as these women?

Interviewing the driving force …

This video was the conception of model TEDxMidAtlantic 2012 - Cameron RussellCameron Russell (her non-climate focused TEDX talk) with whom I had an email interview. From that exchange:

Q: Was this easy to put together?

Well, in reality it took about 2 weeks and 300 phone calls to pull together. I was inspired by the 350 idea and effort of each community creating its own 350 photo and video op. So this was a video my community could contribute.

Q: Any thoughts about next steps? (Take the same theme and get male models to do it?)

One thing we’d like to see is copycat videos. People around the world putting on 40 articles of clothing and doing their own count down to 352 or 351. It was incredibly fun and funny to do. We were waddling out onto the set. I think people could have a lot of fun with this.

Q The fact is that ‘super model’ translates into ‘super traveler’. Many would see that as one of the great ‘benefits’ of being a top model. Yet, such travel creates a significant carbon footprint. How should we balance that? What are your thoughts? [Please note, we all face the reality of challenges in our lives, whether created by work or otherwise …]

It is an incredible challenge and definitely something I think about.

Right now, I’m not in charge of where shoots take place. Even with a carbon tax of some kind, advertising will still likely be shot in beautiful places around the world. The cost of traveling to the location is a very small part of the whole. The good news is that there aren’t that many models or teams doing this work.

At home, in Manhattan, I walk and bike every where. I don’t have a driver’s license and don’t have a plan for getting one any time soon.

Let’s be honest, here, it is hard to see that “modeling”, the “fashion industry”, and the concept of buying that latest fashion to add into the bulging closet is core to a sustainable human civilization. And, not having a driver’s license doesn’t really negate (could we say “off set”) that impact.

On the other hand, as Russell makes clear, incorporating impact costs and mitigation costs would be negligible in terms of the overall economic value of the advertising and modeling industry– climate action wouldn’t shut down modeling.  And, these models’ action to use their celebrity to promote discussion of certainly has more power of wide communication than (yet) another A Siegel blog post to be read by 3.5 people.

Some thoughts about the video …

When I saw this, I had a couple reactions that included: Why all white? Why no men? Isn’t this so ‘politically incorrect’? ….? Then, I reminded myself: not everyone hears or sees things in the same way; not everyone is open to the same messages; and, well, this video’s buzz might gain a little bit of attention.

Why should we care that Darryl Hannah is Hulk!!!a climate project trainee, that Brad Pitt is a leader in green housing in New Orleans and is a climate envoy, that Leonardo DiCaprio makes a film on climate change and speaks eloquently about the issue at the White House, that the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) is an anti-fracking and climate activist, or other celebrities us their fame to raise awareness of our climate challenges? The reality is that we live in a society that embraces fame and celebrities … and leveraging the power of fame and celebrities for good, for necessary change is good …

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Tags: advertising · climate change