We’re less than a month out from one of the largest and most diverse global days of action ever. On 10/10/10 communities in over 100 countries will be participating in activities that demonstrate local sustainable food, energy, water, and transportation solutions to climate change. Of course, people and businesses are already leading with green solutions at the state and local levels. But by participating in a highly visual and highly publicized day they will also be sending a message to their respective political leaders in Washington that they are ready for action.
Founded by Bill McKibben, the international climate campaign 350.org Global Work Party is in its second year. Last year citizens of all stripes engaged in over 5000 demonstrations and actions in over 180 countries! CNN called it the ‘most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.’
Why 350? That is the parts-per-million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that scientists say signifies the safe upper limit for mitigating the worst impacts of climate change. We’re now at 392, so we need to put the breaks on fast to avoid tipping points such as the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet and release of methane trapped in permafrost that will result sea level rise and catastrophe for millions. It is a number that can be grasped world-wide, regardless of language.
After a year of massive fires in Russia, massive flooding and record temperatures in Pakistan, big chunks of ice falling into the sea, disrupted growing seasons, coal mining disasters, and of course the summer-long BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the writing is on the wall. While the United States Senate sits on its haunches failing to pass a strong energy and climate bill, people across the world are arousing from their slumber.
For example, an alternative peoples climate summit was convened in Cochabamba, Bolivia after the mostly expected, but embarrassing, fiasco in Copenhagen last December. This past year has also seen multiple nonviolent direct actions and mobilizations. In March activists chained themselves in front of the offices of the Environmental Protection Agency to protest destructive and polluting mountain top mining operations in West Virginia. Banks financing both mountain top removal corporations in West Virgina and tar sands operations in Alberta, Canada have been the target of successful campaigns. Most recently Chevron and BP were subject to a ‘Make Big Oil Pay’ demonstration and direct action in San Francisco to demand accountability for impacted communities.
So what will people be doing on October 10? In addition to rallies and actions, everyday citizens from Bombay to Boston will be planting trees, cleaning up shorelines, installing solar panels, riding bikes, transforming yards into edible landscapes, planting rooftop gardens, retrofitting buildings, making public commitments to cut emissions by 10% in 2010, greening their churches, learning about water and energy conservation, participating in solar oven and greywater workshops, and so on.
That’s just a taste of the day’s activities.
“People were doing very practical things,” said 350.org founder Bill McKibben about last year’s events. “But they also were sending a pointed political message. When they put down their shovels, many picked up their cell-phones to call their leaders and say: ‘We’re getting to work, what about you?’”
I met a guy the other day whose group Ride 350 is hitting the road for a week with a bunch of friends, biking along the coast from Astoria to Gold Beach along the Oregon Coast, while raising awareness about climate change and clean energy solutions.
Bay Localize, a San Francisco Bay Area group, is part of a coalition hosting a day of activities at the local community college, part community work party, part rally, part musical kick-off to a state-wide tour against big oil-funded Proposition 23, which threatens to suspend California’s landmark greenhouse gas emission law and thereby stalling the state’s clean energy and green economy future.
For my own part, I’m helping to organize a Food Justice Bike Tour with two local organizations, where we will be visiting innovative local urban agriculture and food justice initiatives while burning fat, not oil.
This year’s Global Work Party could be even bigger than last year’s, with the message of clean air, clean energy, and climate action going mainstream. Perhaps you caught McKibben on the David Letterman show last week. The audience was energized about the message of action. People are using their imaginations and getting involved in ways that move them.
Here’s a video compilation from last year’s events:
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Photo Credit: The Scythe Connection