Take Action on Oct. 24: Join One of the Largest Global Protests in the Fight Against Climate Change
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All the more reason for world leaders to sign on to 350 ppm, and many have. So far, over 95 nations are supporting the campaign, among them the Association of Small Island States and the 49 least-developed countries. They know full well that it is the poorest and least-developed countries that will bear the brunt of climate change. They are the ones who will end up, quite literally, underwater first.
"Even if we do everything right from here on in," stated McKibben, "it will be a long time before we're back to 350 -- the youngest people on the planet will be elderly. Temperatures will continue to go up, and a lot of damage will be done. What we are working for is to prevent change so large that civilization itself will be challenged, and that's still possible (we hope). But only if we get to work right away."
This is where the Oct. 24 action comes into play. Global warming and climate change is an issue that has largely remained in the hands of scientists, engineers, policy wonks, the nonprofit sector and government officials. Yes, there have been climate-change protests in spots around the world, but jumpstarting a mass movement along the lines of the anti-Iraq-war coalitions has just not happened yet.
350.org offers the opportunity "to have a movement based on clear, bold and simple targets," said Jamie Henn, 350.org's communications director, adding, "We are beginning to see pressure building on the U.S. ... In issues like this we are able to have stakes on something specific so that negotiators have to meet targets or at the very least explain why they are not meeting the targets."
What is also unique about the 350.org International Day of Action is how it is bringing people together who, under normal circumstances have great difficulty in cooperating. If McKibben had to pick a favorite action, he said, "it's a team organized by Friends of the Earth Middle East: Israeli activists will make a giant '3' on their shore of the dwindling Dead Sea, and Palestinians a giant '5' on their beach, and Jordanians a human '0' on theirs. To me it makes clear that we need to come together across all borders to face our first truly global crises."
Adam Welz, a 350.org organizer based in Cape Town, South Africa, wrote: " 350.org has reached out across the notoriously fragmented continent of Africa to inspire people from downtown Johannesburg to remote parts of Somalia to do something, however to raise awareness of climate change. We're making inroads into consciousness, and that's great."
Welz says that 350.org's success is based on its inclusiveness and flat structure. "It's creating a platform not telling everyone exactly what to do," stated Welz. "It's so far mostly sidestepped the territorial nonsense that stops so many nonprofits cooperating by being deliberately inclusive and allowing ordinary people to bring their own creativity to the cause rather than telling them what to do and keeping them strictly 'on message.' "
And that is the beauty and hope of 350.org. It is the faith that people acting together for a common goal will actually reach it, using as many paths as there are people.
"We, the 'official' 350.org people, are just being carried along in a profoundly inspiring wave of global energy that's rising around us," noted Welz. "This tiny organization has inspired what is going to be the world's most widespread environmental awareness event ever."