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Earth’s CO2 Hits 400ppm

May 11, 2013


James Hillman (1998: 101):  The anima mundi indicates the animated possibilities presented by each event as it is, its sensuous presentation as a face.”

On Thursday, May 9, two weeks after Earth Day, on the same day as the eclipse pictured, we hit 400ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere.

“If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385ppm to at most 350ppm,” writes NASA’s James Hansen (2008).

According Pieter Tans of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as reported to AP, the last time we hit 400ppm was 2 million years ago,  during the Pleistocene Era when “It was much warmer than it is today.”  Back then, forests grew in Greenland, converting the carbon in the air into trees, and sea level was 33 to 66 feet higher than it is today. Other scientists say it may have been as long ago as 10 million years that we had this much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

And modern humans have only been around for 100,000 years.

In 1958, it was 315ppm. Before the Industrial Revolution, it was 280ppm, and following the Ice Age, it was 200ppm. These days, we are adding 2 ppm PER YEAR.

What does this mean to you?

It should mean a lot. Co2 triggers temperatures to rise over time, scientists say, which is causing sea levels to rise and some weather patterns to change.

Think increased rain in the parts of the world that doesn’t need it, droughts in other parts of the world that do. More devastating forest fires.  More floods. Crop losses. Starvation.

Think loss of habitat for all species on the planet. We’re not just talking about polar bears dying, but huge loses of life to all species. Many species will go extinct. Our species may survive, but how many people will die first?

“What we see today is 100 percent due to human activity,” said Tans, a NOAA senior scientist.

James Hillman (1995: xx):“Perhaps the abuses I have unconsciously suffered in my deep interior subjectivity pale in comparison with the abuses going around me every minute in my ecological surroundings, abuses that I myself commit or comply with. It may be easier to discover yourself a victim than admit yourself a perpetrator.”

Climate change deniers and too many Republicans aside, the primary source of CO2 t-rexis from anthropogenic causes, namely, the burning of fossil fuels including coal for electricity and oil for gasoline. We’re converting our fossil ancestors into disposable plastic garbage that pollutes our planet and contributes to the death of untold numbers of animals every day.  (Read about Chris Jordan’s Midway project and other art projects here and here.)

We are slowly but surely disposing of our planet.

In my opinion, our planet is NOT disposable.

400ppm should mean you do everything in your power to change your carbon footprint, and that of your  family, friends, and neighbors. It should mean that you help change our government’s policies to those that are more sustainable to our life on this planet.

What it means to me in this morning is, after I hit publish on this post, I’m going to help our planet by planting more vegetables in our very small garden.

And…This summer, I’m going to be doing field research to contribute to a deeper understanding of how we can change the dynamic of our relationship from one of abuse to one of caring. I will be publishing my results on my blogs (please subscribe!)

And…This fall, I’m going to make this issue a cornerstone of the classes that I teach by creating a climate of caring for each other and our planet inside and outside of the classroom.  

One last thought: as someone working on a PhD in a depth psychology with an emphasis in Ecopsychology, I notice that on the day we hit 400ppm, we also had a annular eclipse where the shadow of the New Moon traveled the Earth allowing us to see what is hidden–and what we  are hiding from. In a 2011 essay Nouriani wrote,

“We are at a point in the evolution of consciousness and the history of human-kind where we must begin to integrate the collective shadow of humanity—or it will destroy all human life on Earth.

Our personal and collective shadows can turn anything into a weapon of mass destruction. 

Can we recognize that each of carries a destructive shadow that needs to be integrated?

The process of integrating both the personal and the collective shadow is essential if there is to be a next stage in the development of collective human consciousness.

Nouriani, S. (2011). The defensive misappropriation and corruption of cultural symbols. Jung Journal, 5(1), 19-30.

Cape York Annular Eclipse
Image Credit & Copyright: Cameron McCarty, Matthew Bartow, Michael Johnson –
MWV Observatory, Coca-Cola Space Science Center, Columbus State University Eclipse Team Explanation: This week the shadow of the New Moon fell on planet Earth, crossing Queensland’s Cape York in northern Australia … for the second time in six months. On the morning of May 10, the Moon’s apparent size was too small to completely cover the Sun though, revealing a “ring of fire” along the central path of the annular solar eclipse. Near mid-eclipse from Coen, Australia, a webcast team captured this telescopic snapshot of the annular phase. Taken with a hydrogen-alpha filter, the dramatic image finds the Moon’s silhouette just within the solar disk, and the limb of the active Sun spiked with solar prominences.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 11, 2013 5:22 pm

    Reblogged this on Compassionate Rebel.

  2. Ann Force permalink
    May 20, 2013 3:48 pm

    The Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art is requesting artwork submissions on the topic of women’s right of choice. The deadline for art submissions is September 22, 2013. The exhibit will be at a San Francisco gallery in December, 2013. For information on submissions, please see this link:

    In addition, written experiences on how you or others have been touched by abortion will be part of an installation, “Ending the Silence.” Submissions may be made anonymously through the NCWCA website, or by mailing them a letter by June 1, 2013. The website where one can enter writing anonymously is:

    Thank you for sending this out to your women contacts and asking them to contribute their thoughts on what it means to have access to safe, legal abortion.

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