Take Action on Oct. 24: Join One of the Largest Global Protests in the Fight Against Climate Change
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What started out a couple of years ago as a idea promoted by author/climate-change activist Bill McKibben and a few students at Vermont's Middlebury College has morphed into the biggest environmental, and possibly the most extensive worldwide protest, ever.
On Oct. 24, tens of thousands of people will be in the streets and on mountains, rivers and glaciers around the world demanding action to reduce CO2 emissions to 350 parts per million (ppm).
With just five days to go, 3,422 events are planned or under way in 160 nations on every continent, including Antarctica. More are coming online daily at 350.org, a small (seven staffers) organization based in Berkeley, Calif., that is coordinating the international day of action.
Organizers of the event are targeting the United Nations Climate Change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December. They hope the international day of action will apply pressure on the assembled heads of state and governments to reduce global greenhouse gas CO2 emissions to below 350 ppm, the number that scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
This is an impressive task given that emissions already stand at 387 ppm. That demand has created a wired worldwide movement with a just over two dozen very busy coordinators based in offices, apartments and Internet cafes from Bujumbura, Burundi, to Berkeley, reaching out to other activists and organizations and planning global actions in conjunction with local communities.
McKibben, author of The End of Nature, the first widely read book on global warming, explained via e-mail to AlterNet why he co-founded 350.org: "The U.S. and China and governments and corporations change when pressure is applied to them. There is only one place that pressure can come from, which is a movement of people. Hence 350.org."
Planned climate-change actions for Oct. 24 run the gamut from impressive to odd, hopeful to heartwarming. The entire Cabinet of the government of the Maldives held a meeting underwater to display what will happen to the Maldives if nothing is done to halt climate change. Planning for the underwater event has even received U.S. media coverage, which has largely ignored the efforts of 350.org despite widespread international interest in the protests.
Australia will see more than 160 actions, including 350 tall ships that will glide by the Sydney Opera House, St. Mary's Cathedral bell will toll 350 times and 350 wind turbines will be on display in Wagga Wagga.
Three hundred fifty people will bungee jumping off old power station towers in Soweto, South Africa. A huge outdoor concert and aerial photo shoot in Mexico City is planned. An expedition is under way to Chacaltaya in Bolivia, site of the first Andean glacier to disappear forever. When the expedition arrives, the indigenous Aymara will conduct a blessing ceremony to try to protect the glaciers that are left.
A bicycle ride against global warming will take place in Hanoi, Vietnam. Ceremonies will take place at Machu Picchu, Peru, and a banner parade will wind past the pyramids in Egypt. Over 170 actions are expected in China alone. There will even be small events in Kabul, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, areas where people already have plenty on their minds.
Then there are small-scale oddities: Horses in Mexico stenciled with the number "350"; a children's bicycle race in a Guatemalan where each participant gets to take a piglet home. Closer to home, a huge rally is expected in San Francisco organized by 350.org, the Mobilization for Climate Justice, Greenpeace and Global Exchange and a variety of other groups to demand strong action on climate change. Other events are slated in Berkeley, Oakland and San Jose, including a hands-around-the-summit of Mount Diablo organized by Save Mount Diablo.