Now that we’ve practiced with a little bit of simple math (see Small Is The New Big), I thought it would be a good idea to step it up a notch.

I was waiting to publish this post until I had more educational ones on the carbon cycle, but I’ll simply revisit the subject in a future post, or two, or three, or …

The journey we are about to enjoy into the bowels of high school arithmetic is just too important to sit on (Don’t worry, it just consist of 3 numbers and a few very simple graphs for those of us who are more visual). Besides, I’ve been playing around with a sweet WordPress video plugin called Vipers which I am de-fanging and snaking through the website. Hey, some people wear shark teeth (we’ll attack that one later).

So Let’s begin.

What does the number 350 mean to you?

  • The number of calories in the Krispy Kreme Chocolate Iced Kreme Filled Doughnut you had for breakfast?
  • The year Leonidus’ “THIS IS SPARTA!” battle cry finally reached the alien planet of Krypton?
  • One tenth of Imelda Marco’s shoe collection?
  • The number of times your kids say “are we there yet?” when on the drive to Disney World?
  • The number of times you have to tell the man in your life to PLEASE PUT THE TOILET SEAT DOWN!!!? (And by corollary the number of times you have fallen into the toilet).

There are no wrong answers here.

350 can mean just about anything to just about anyone but to a team of scientists led by James Hansen in 2008, decades of expertise in climatology and studying geological data lead them to the conclusion that 350 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere (i.e. 0.035% of the air we breath as pure carbon dioxide) is the maximum amount Earth’s ecosystem can sustain if we wish to “preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted.” And have created a 45 minute movie to help you Do The Math (click or scroll to the bottom).

In and of itself, 350 is still just a number, a factoid, an ace in your pocket when going for that final piece of cheese in Trivial Pursuit. It only acquires some meaning in our every day lives when we build some context around it, such as:

Where does CO2 comes from? The quick answer is from the burning of fossil fuels.

Where does it go? Up, up , up and not away, except when it gets absorbed by our oceans to make them more acidic. Better get all your snorkeling in ASAP.

Where are we now? We have currently crossed the 400 ppm mark. Yes, you heard me correctly (see this article from Inside Climate News), and we are not showing any signs of slowing down soon.

Hmmm. Let’s see.

400 > 350

And the kicker. Where are we headed? Within 25 years we’ll be at 450 ppm, which is REALLY BAD NEWS. It’s about the only thing world leaders agree to.

Earth is about to start righting the wrongs of humanity in an epic science fiction kind of way a lot sooner than previously predicted.

Hmmm. Interesting.

450 > 400 > 350

So here’s a final bit of math for today (I can’t promise there won’t be more in posts to come).

Your age + 25 = ?

What about your children or the children you are planning to have or the children you just love to hang out with?

What about your family and friends?

What about your legacy?

It’s not enough to only Do The Math. We have a choice.

We can chose to wait for legislation to force change upon us (don’t count your ducks)


We can choose to wait for Earth to bring it on in the form of longer droughts, more devastating floods, sea level rise (hope you didn’t invest in that swamp land in Florida, most of it will be under water), massive hurricanes, tornadoes, …


We can choose to NOT wait. We can own it, take the position of power, be a Woman Not Waiting and lead humanity into a healthy future on this planet.

Well, what would math be without homework?  Watch the movie, share it, then take a look through your investments today and divest any fossil fuel related ones into something more sustainable. Go even one step further and rally your fellow employees to put pressure on your employer’s pension fund to divest as well.

And if you want extra bonus marks, please post a comment with the contact information of any financial advisers you know who deal only in sustainable investments.

Remember Small Is The New Big.