400 PPM … The Era of Consequences?

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Last month, with minimal media commentary the carbon concentration of the atmosphere crept past the 400 parts per million (PPM) level for the first time in several million years.  While 400 PPM is in many ways just a number on a scientific scale, it got me thinking about whether at a deeper level it could […]

Last month, with minimal media commentary the carbon concentration of the atmosphere crept past the 400 parts per million (PPM) level for the first time in several million years.  While 400 PPM is in many ways just a number on a scientific scale, it got me thinking about whether at a deeper level it could be seen as a clarion call from the eco-system.

It also reminded me of a speech delivered by Winston Churchill nearly 77 years ago.  On the 12th November 1936, Churchill addressed the UK Houses of Parliament and gave one of his most direct warnings of what was to unfold across Europe and ultimately the world.  In that speech he warned:

So they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent …

Owing to past neglect, in the face of the plainest warnings, we have now entered upon a period of danger … The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences…

“We cannot avoid this period; we are in it now.”

While the reading on a scientific instrument perhaps lacks the rhetorical eloquence of Churchill, one cannot help wonder whether 400 PPM signifies the beginning of another “era of consequence.”
 
James Robey
4th June 2013

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