10/03/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The 350, Big Oil and John McCain Connection

Maybe not as exciting as the Democratic Convention, but even more critical for our survival, is a piece of news that went totally unnoticed this week. CO2 levels continue to rise, with no end in sight. That's the news we should be pondering, every day when we wake up. Here is the latest chart on CO2 trends from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration:


According to James Hansen, the authority on the subject, we are at 385 parts per million of CO2, already past the safe level of 350, and rising about 2 parts per million every year. Not all is lost, and we still have a few more years to reverse the situation back to safer levels. Still we are inching up dangerously close to 450, what Hansen considers as a point of no return, past which we would not be able to reverse catastrophic consequences from climate change.

I understand this is no news in a technical sense, and there lies the problem. We tend to forget, and not pay attention anymore. This is why I bring it up, again. We also fail to make the link between that information and the political decision at stake in November. During his recent testimony to Congress, James Hansen did not blame citizens for the 385 number. Instead, he assigned the primary responsibility to the big oil and coal companies, for deliberately maintaining a climate of misinformation among the public, and for lobbying to keep laws that grossly favor them at the expense of new, climate friendly energy options.

What can you do, you may wonder? Following James Hansen's lead, your single most important contribution as a citizen, is to vote for a candidate who is free from ties with those special fossil fuel interests. Last time I checked, John McCain was still pretty cozy with Big Oil . . . Obama, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with lobbyists.