400 ppm (parts per million) means 0.04 percent (0.0004) of the atmosphere. Seems insignificant. A minuscule amount. But that depends entirely what you’re used to. Such a small amount comes up regularly in business and science. There a four-hundredths percent rise or fall in a market price might be significant. There a four-hundredths percent tax might be a lot of money.
But the average person does not see the significance. A 0.04% raise on a $30,000 salary would be $12. A 0.04% increase in their daily commute might be a few seconds, max.
The average person doesn’t even know that the average concentration for CO2 has hit 400 ppm, or what that means. That it was last this high at least 800,000 years ago, if not much longer.
The average person does not have to know to drive real change. Yet it does not appear that this government will drive it, not the president and not the congress. These companies, titans of industry, seem to think this is business as usual. They have made no major changes. Wall Street has not begun accounting for carbon in their ratings and valuations reports. We had enough trouble getting a basic nutritional label for the fast food industry, so don’t expect to see the carbon footprint of that happy meal any time soon.
Denialism isn’t the problem. It may distract from the truth, but even without deniers we would be in denial as a country and as a planet. Denialism is a good sign, especially when it comes with the signs of corporate shilling, because it means industry actually knows the issue is real. With the right value proposition, they will switch sides and push for real climate action. Not just the lobbyists and shills, but the actual companies and industries.
The only problem with the CO2 problem is the pace of change. Copyright. Hear me out, the problem with making people care about copyright is that you’re currently dealing with terms over that of the human lifespan. It’s hard to care about a world long after you’re gone. It seems so uncertain. And we seem to have enough problems to deal with here and now, how can we operate for the future’s benefit?
Most people don’t adequately save for retirement. With the health insurance system such a mess, most don’t receive adequate preventative health care. We don’t have a great track record to build on here.
The other problem with the climate timescale is people don’t know what the solution would look like. Because nobody has told them. They have only been told that their daily lives, the products they buy, all contribute to this problem. And that some nebulous change will be needed from them, who perceive themselves as recreating the time cycles of their forebears. That they will have to break some sacred chain, at the behest of scientists and politicians who talk funny and dress funny and they probably smell funny too.
Oh well. I’m still optimistic. Systems find balance.