For most of Earth’s history, our atmosphere has had an average of 275 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 acts like a blanket to trap heat from the sun. The more CO2, the thicker the blanket. According to our nation’s leading climate scientists, including NASA’s Dr. James Hansen, 350 ppm is the maximum amount of CO2 in our atmosphere “to continue civilization as we have known it.”
About 300 years ago, humans started burning fossil fuels like coal and whale oil and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere started to rise on an increasingly more rapid basis. Unfortunately, our planet’s atmosphere has already leaped past the 350 ppm mark and, today, CO2 levels exceed 400 ppm, increasing by 2 ppm every year.
Our increased concentrations of CO2 have also increased our global temperatures and with those record temperatures have come a whole host of serious problems – from California’s current record drought, to extreme weather around the globe, to melting glaciers from the top to the bottom of the planet driving increased sea levels. That sea level rise now endangers the very existence of ports and coastal communities – and in the case of the Pacific Island nations of Kirabati, Tuvalu, and the Maldives, entire countries.
Responding to this man-made global climate crisis was Bill McKibben and seven Middlebury college students, who in 2008 launched a grassroots movement to raise public awareness of the scientific facts and end the use of fossil fuels. From these simple beginnings, the group – naming itself after the C02 science “350.org” — has now grown into an internationally influential environmental action group with hundreds of thousands of supporters in local groups across the world.
Locally, the South Bay/Los Angeles 350 Climate Action Group became the first California 350 chapter in 2009. Today South Bay Los Angeles 350 proudly stands with the frontline Los Angeles Harbor and industrial communities. The residents of our neighborhoods breathe some of the worst air quality in the USA and suffer corresponding health impacts, including dramatically increased rates of asthma in our children.
The recent major explosion at the Exxon Mobil refinery that showered parts of Torrance and Redondo Beach with catalyst dust was ruled a “near miss” catastrophe by the Chemical Safety Board. The currently unfolding environmental disaster in Porter Ranch is spewing millions of gallons of climate killing methane into our atmosphere while sickening the residents and driving them from their homes and schools. These are just the latest ugly reminders of the dangers posed to us and our families by the 6 local refineries in our communities as well as the Rancho LPG storage facility which houses up to 25 million gallons of highly explosive butane.
South Bay Los Angeles 350 is united with 350.org to create a rapid and Just Transition from fossil fuels to 100% clean, green, renewable energy with job retraining and employment for current workers in the oil, gas and coal industries.
If you are interested in helping us create the new green economy with good-paying local jobs, then please join us on Wednesday, January 27, 2016 at the Peck Park Auditorium, located at 560 N. Western Avenue, in San Pedro from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Join us in the struggle!