01 August 2009

127 Days til Copenhagen - The Most Important Number Is (drum roll please) ...

0. The most important number in the whole world today is zero, Zero, ZERO! That little "0" at the end of 350. That most fascinating of numbers that came to us via the Medieval Latin zephirum, which came from the Arabic sifr. That most amazing of numbers that came to us, if I understand correctly, from the Hindus of India, who recognized around 200 A.D. a mathematical representation of the concept of no quantity. (It had not occurred to earlier civilizations.) And that most useful of numbers because it allows us to represent any other whole number of any size. 

Isn't it funny that the number "zero" had to be invented? Does that mean that human beings have never been very good at limiting themselves? (Although it has been pointed out that zero is not the same as nothingness.) But I'm not a mathematician and I digress.

Today, I would just like to quickly point out that we have to get used to the notion of zero carbon. We have to embed that term (which is shorthand for zero greenhouse gas emissions) in our brains and emblazon it on our Tshirts.

We have to get everyone talking about zero carbon. It has to become a big, hairy audacious goal of every human being on the planet. And it has to be the objective we keep in mind as we develop all the fantastic renewable energy technologies that will safeguard life on Earth.

So, for starters, here's a little instruction in zerodom (pardon any errors of syntax or little accents not showing up):

  • Dutch: nul koolstof

  • French: zéro carbone

  • German: null carbon

  • Italian: zero carbonio

  • Portuguese: zero carbono

  • Spanish: cero carbón

No comments:

Post a Comment

I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?