Even amidst all the political smoke rising from the UN and the G20, the basic scientific facts that we’re facing are shining through ever more clearly. Two days ago Nature magazine, in its lead article, reaffirmed 350 as one of the planet’s central boundaries. That news is spreading everywhere–in the science press (here’s an article from Scientific American) and in the world’s most widely-read magazines–here’s what Time just wrote:

Regarding climate change, for instance, Rockstrom proposes an atmospheric-carbon-concentration limit of no more than 350 parts per million (p.p.m.) — meaning no more than 350 atoms of carbon for every million atoms of air. (Before the industrial age, levels were at 280 p.p.m.; currently they’re at 387 p.p.m. and rising.) That, scientists believe, should be enough to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, which should be safely below a climatic tipping point that could lead to the wide-scale melting of polar ice sheets, swamping coastal cities. "Transgressing these boundaries will increase the risk of irreversible climate change," writes Rockstrom.

But as the world attempts to break the carbon addiction that already has it well on the way to climate catastrophe, more clearly defined limits will be useful. But climate diplomats should remember that while they can negotiate with one another, ultimately, they can’t negotiate with the planet. Unless we manage our presence on Earth better, we may soon be in the last days of our Long Summer.  Read the full article>>

As we head toward Copenhagen, keeping the focus on science–and on the people that are already bearing the burden of living with its implications, like these folks in Sydney, or these in Atlanta, or these in Kenya–is all of our main task.

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