Organized by the grassroots campaign 350.org, participants in the International Day of Climate Action are mobilizing to urge world leaders to support a clear solution to the climate crisis - reducing the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million.
Climbers display a 350 flag atop Antarctica's highest peak. (Photo courtesy 350.org)
Scientists at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii say that CO2 levels in the atmosphere now stand at 387 ppm, up almost 40 percent since the industrial revolution and the highest for at least the last 650,000 years.
From capital cities to the melting slopes of Mount Everest, out in the middle of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, underwater on dying coral reefs - people are holding rallies and visual demonstrations to focus attention on the 350 ppm target.
There will be festivals, bike rides, dinners, photo petitions, music events, kids' education programs, sailing and diving events, and more. Photos of the events will be assembled into a gigantic, global, visual petition.
American activist and author Bill McKibben, founder of the 350.org campaign, says, "It looks like the International Day of Climate Action this Saturday October 24th will be the single most widespread day of political action the planet has ever seen."
Bill McKibben (Photo courtesy 350.org)
More than 4,800 simultaneous events in 179 countries are scheduled. Find out where events are happening at: http://www.350.org/map.
"People in all those cities and towns all around the world will be saying the same thing - science tells us that we can't have more than 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere if we want a planet like the one on which we were born," McKibben says. "That sounds complicated, but it isn't - 350 is the bottom line for the Earth."
The U.S. Senate is set to begin hearings on its global warming bill on Tuesday, and McKibben warns that the House bill passed in June and the Senate bill that is under consideration both are aimed at achieving atmospheric levels of 450 ppm carbon dioxide, not nearly low enough to avert the worst consequences of climate change.
This day of action "will be one of the last best chances to make the support for much stronger efforts unmistakably loud and clear," McKibben said Thursday. "Your efforts this weekend will be doing double duty," he urged, "helping with the fight in Copenhagen and also on Capitol Hill."
Originally conceived as a single day of action, events are now taking place over a three day period that started today with the first actions taking place in New Zealand and Ethiopia.
Divers display a 350 banner at the wreck of the Rainbow Warrior in Matauri Bay, New Zealand. (Photo courtesy 350.org)
At bottom of Matauri Bay, New Zealand, divers unfurled a banner reading "350 OR WE'RE ALL SUNK" on the the wreck of the vessel Rainbow Warrior, Greenpeace's first ship. It was sunk there by the French Intelligence Service in 1985, because Greenpeace activists protested French nuclear testing at Moruroa Atoll in French Polynesia.
In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 10,000 schoolchildren are participating in a mass fun run and tree planting.
Across the world in a giant collaborative art project, citizens will form giant 3, 5, and 0 puzzle pieces.
As the Saturday starts in the East, large 3's will be formed at sites including the Sydney Opera House in Australia and the Great Wall in China.
Giant 5's will be formed in Delhi and London.
And large 0's will be formed in Quito, Ecuador; Washington, DC; and Copenhagen, Denmark, where the annual United Nations climate conference will take place this December.
Kids for Tigers in the Sundarbans in India, threatened by sea-level rise. (Photo courtesy 350.org)
In Copenhagen, from December 7 to 18, world governments are expected to finalize an agreement to limit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are heating up the planet. This agreement would pick up when the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period expires at the end of 2012.
Meanwhile, 350.org events continue this weekend.
In New York City on Saturday, the 350 global organizing team will display visuals from around the world on the giant video screens of Times Square and then hold a briefing for U.S. and international media.
In Kabul, Afghanistan, the Environment Minster of Afghanistan and other senior officials will join youth environmental organizers in the first grassroots mobilizing event on climate change in Afghanistan. Afghan Youth for Social Development and Tolerance will create a 300 square meter message, on the slopes of Paghman Mountain that reads, "SAVE OUR WORLD - AFGHAN YOUTH FOR 350."
Sarah Rifaat, a 350.org youth climate organizer, and the Cairo Cyclist club took this photo in front of the Great Pyramids of Egypt after cycling from Cairo. (Photo courtesy 350.org)
In the Indian Ocean island nation of the Maldives, threatened by sea level rise, the government held a cabinet meeting for 350.org under water on October 17.
In Tegucigalpa, Honduras, regardless of the political turmoil, Tunza Honduras and Universidad Nacional will lead a five km march culminating in a 350 Honduras photograph.
The China Youth Climate Action Network is organizing students from hundreds of campuses to take part in the day of action, holding lectures, planting trees, and hosting events at landmarks such as the Great Wall.
In Barcelona, Spain, after a day of speeches and climate roundtables, churches throughout the city will ring bells 350 times at 20:00 hours, and 350 percussionists will gather at Las Ramblas 7 to sound the demand for 350 ppm or less of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
As part of the 350.org International Day of Climate Action on Saturday, more than 90 Unitarian Universalist congregations across the United States have organized activities in their local communities to advocate for the reduction of carbon emissions.
"The delicate balance of life on Earth is threatened, and with it the wellbeing of all people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable," said Unitarian Universalist Association President Rev. Peter Morales. "Religious communities have an obligation to take action now for the future of the planet and humanity."
"The challenge of confronting global warming is daunting," said Morales. "But we must have faith that a healthy future for our planet and for all its people is still possible provided that we make the major changes that are now absolutely necessary. We owe nothing less to one another and to future generations."
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.