EARTHFUTURE by Guy Dauncey
“Dear world: This is an invitation to help build a movement – to take one day and use it to stop the climate crisis.” These are words from the grassroots organization 350.org, which is energizing a huge global protest about the looming climate crisis. On Saturday, October 24, up to a million people will take action for 350: International Day of Climate Action. A million and one, if you participate too. At the time of writing, people have signed on to initiate 1,514 actions in 114 countries from Canada to China and from Mongolia to the Maldives.
Their actions will be colourful, positive and totally determined to convey the message to our world’s leaders that our planet is in peril. We must reduce the carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere to 350 parts per million and not let it continue to creep ever upwards toward 450 or 550 parts per million.
Before we started burning our way through two hundred million years of ancient carbon, the level was 280 parts per million. That’s how much we’ve thrown our atmosphere out of balance.
In Vancouver, people will gather on the Cambie Street Bridge at 11:00 AM for “Bridge to a Cool Future” and then move along Pacific Boulevard to Science World, which will offer art, performance, music, food and whatever creativity you contribute. At www.bridgecoolplanet.ca, organizer Kevin Washbrook writes, “Please encourage your business, church, cultural group or sports team to take part. Invite your friends, colleagues, neighbours and grandparents. Together, we can send a strong message that it is time for action.”
In Victoria, also on October 24, FutureFest starts at noon in Centennial Square, with community visioning, performers, a flash dance mob and a mass bike ride (www.350.org/victoria). A conference on Salt Spring is also being organized by the Gulf Islands Alliance (www.gulfislandsalliance.ca).
The intention of the global protest is to drive home the crucial importance of the number 350. According to Bill McKibben, the movement’s founder, “350 parts per million (ppm) is the number humanity needs to get below as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change. To get there, we need a different kind of PPM – a ‘people powered movement’ that is made of people like you in every corner of the planet.” Bill has been travelling all over the world, motivating people to become involved.
In India, Bidisha Banerjee hiked with a friend to the Gangotri glacier, at the mouth of the Ganges River, where she filled 350 brass vessels with its holy water and arranged them to display “350” so that their energy might carry the thought deep into the soul of our planet’s emerging future. She writes, “Over the last 35 years, the Gangotri Glacier has retreated at faster and faster rates. A UN report suggests that climate change may desiccate the Ganges by 2030, parching 500 million Indians both spiritually and physically. This is one of many reasons why the number 350 is so important for Indians.”
In Portland, Oregon, a hundred paddling communities will gather on the Willamette River to spell out “350” in their kayaks. In Chile, the Eco-Schools Network is getting the word out to 350 schools. In Upper Kintore, New Brunswick, Peter Vido is hoping 35 hand-mowers will mow a giant “350” in the grass that will be seen by people in passing airplanes. In Mexico, there will be a huge rally in the Monterrey Soccer Stadium.
Anyone can take an action, however small. Just invite some friends, make a sign and send the photo to 350.org. If you are alone, you could create a 350 sign and place it in your window.
On October 24, people around the world will join in a single act of supplication, sounding a note which they hope will penetrate the hearts, minds and souls of every global leader in the run up to the critical Copenhagen Conference where they will hopefully craft a strong new global climate treaty.
Three hundred and fifty. Trois-cinquante. Zwischen drei und fünfzig. Tre halvtreds. Tre cinquanta. Drie vijftig. Tatlong limampung. Tiga lima. Padesát tri. Tatu hamsini. Tre femti. Teen pachaas. San wu shi. The beat goes on.
Guy Dauncey is president of the BC Sustainable Energy Association (www.bcsea.org) and author of the forthcoming book, The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming.