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According to recent studies, 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide is the most our atmosphere can take before risking environmental destruction.

Currently, our world-wide economy is producing 390 parts per million.

During International Day of Climate Action last Saturday, 4,800 rallies were held in 181 countries around the world to raise awareness for “350” — legislation that would require our world to reduce the rate of carbon dioxide to that which our environment can actually sustain.

As a part of the international campaign, protesters formed human graphics of the number 350 at historic sites around the world, including Philadelphia’s own Independence Hall. Members of Penn Environmental Group joined the community at the rally this weekend.

According to Andrew Lavine, an organizer of the Philadelphia rally, the event was the “largest climate action and political action the world has ever seen.

The international campaign was started by writer Bill McKibben and based off data from one of the nation’s top climate scientists, Jim Hansen. Its goal is to pass legislation that requires our world to reduce this rate of carbon dioxide from 390 parts per million to 350.

This December, 192 international leaders will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark, to re-negotiate the International Climate Treaty and debate the political viability of 350.

“Environmental issues tend to be about conservation, the legislation process and international treaties tend to get less attention,” said PEG member and College sophomore Zach Bell. “350 represents a much broader appeal and will galvanize much more support because it is a legislation that will affect everyone.”

Ray Anderson, former co-chair of Sustainable Development for the Clinton administration, who spoke at the Philadelphia event, said the goal of 350 is to stabilize our earth’s temperature by reducing our use of fossil fuels by 90 percent.

This is a challenge because our global technology is emitting 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year more than the earth can deal with, Anderson added. As an example, he shared his own experience trying to achieve these goals.

Anderson’s company, Interface, is a carpet company that will replace selected “tiles” of carpets rather than forcing the owners to pay for a whole new unit. The company uses life-cycle assessment, supply chain analysis and closed loop systems to reduce their carbon footprint to be carbon neutral.

“If a petro-intensive company can do this, anybody can,” he said. “If anybody can then everyone can.”

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