Enviromentalist Bill McKibben, 350.org's founder said, "We had no idea we would get the overwhelming support, enthusiasm and engagement from all over the world that we're seeing. It shows just how scared of global warming much of the planet really is, and how fed up at the inaction of our leaders."
The number of 350 ppm originally came from a NASA research team headed by American climate scientist James Hansen, which surveyed both real-time climate observations and emerging paleo-climatic data in January 2008, according to 350.org.David Suzuki (a supporter of 350.org) described the problem with deforestation in "Forests Count in Climate Change" (written with Faisal Moola):
"It's a very tough number," McKibben said. "We're already well past it -- the atmosphere holds 390 ppm today, which is why the Arctic is melting and the ocean steadily acidifying. To get back to the safe level we need a very rapid halt to the use of coal, gas and oil so that forests and oceans can absorb some of that carbon."
While much of the debate and action has focused on curbing emissions from burning fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas, the destruction of our forests, wetlands, grasslands and peatlands is responsible for about one quarter of all other emissions into the atmosphere. That's higher than emissions from cars, trucks, boats and planes together.
In Canada and throughout the world, forests are being rapidly cleared for agriculture and oil and gas development and are being destructively mined and logged.
When forest soils are disturbed and trees are burned or cut down for wood and paper products, much of the carbon stored in their biomass is released back into the atmosphere as heat-trapping carbon dioxide, although some carbon can remain stored in longer-lived forest products, like wood used to make furniture or homes.