The Center for Biological Diversity and filed an historic Clean Air Act petition with the EPA today asking the agency to scientifically determine the safe atmospheric CO2 level, just as its does with six other pollutants judged to endanger to human health and welfare. We also asked that the safe level be set at 350 parts per million or less. The current CO2 level is 385 parts per million, indicating that the planet is already outside the safety zone.

Our goal is to establish a federal scientific standard that will inform state and federal emission legislation, administrative rulemaking, and international negotiations. One of the critical reasons why the United States has proposed much weaker climate legislation than much of the world is that U.S. policymakers and many environmental groups are negotiating without a clear scientific standard as to what’s needed to stop runaway global warming.

Supporters of the current House and Senate bills were none too pleased at the prospect of a scientific panel that would conclude that both bills fall far short of the greenhouse gas emission cuts necessary to control global warming. Nor is the White House pleased that scientific standards have been raised as Obama prepares to ask world leaders in Copenhagen to only reduce emission levels 3 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. To stop global warming, we need to cut emissions by 45 percent below 1990 levels.

Source: Endangered Earth Online email alerting service, ‘Weekly newsletter of the Center for Biological Diversity’, 4 December 2009.