The world is reeling from a year that will likely go down as the hottest on record, a year in which an unprecedented heat wave followed by massive forest fires crippled Russia and floodwaters submerged a fifth of the entire country of Pakistan. It was yet another year in which world leaders failed to act on the scale needed to reduce carbon emissions and commit to a quick transition to clean, renewable energy. It was a year in which the United States Senate failed to demonstrate the necessary courage and heart needed to address climate change and commit to a sustainable future.
Evidence from the real world is mounting that not only is anthropogenic climate change already taking place, it is accelerating faster then originally feared. Did you know that in some areas along the coast of Bangladesh mothers strap homemade life jackets constructed with empty plastic bottles to their children at night, from fear of the flood-prone, changing coastline? And there is no end to haunting images from the animal world now being subjected to the chaos our energy choices are creating. This past month it was baby walruses stranded at sea and crying for their mothers because of ice melt.
This is not a call to despair, but an invitation to roll up your sleeves on October 10, when people in San Antonio and more than 5,000 communities across the globe will be holding global work parties. It will be the largest day of practical action to reduce carbon the world has ever known. We will show our leaders that we are ready for a green economy by getting to work ourselves. We will get our families, friends, and neighbors to join us. We will swell the ranks of the climate movement and begin to transform our own communities by installing solar panels, painting bike paths, volunteering in community gardens, planting trees. We will tell our leaders, “We’re getting to work. This is how. You need to get to work, too.”
Global-scale climate action began a year ago by 350.org when people in 181 countries gathered on October 24, 2009, to display the number 350, often spelled out with their own bodies. Why 350? Leading scientists say 350 parts per million (ppm) is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere that we need to get back to as soon as possible to avoid catastrophic climate change. We’re beyond that limit already. In the words of Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, “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.” Last year, we urged world leaders to enact a bold and comprehensive climate agreement at COP15 in Copenhagen. It didn’t happen. Yet. This movement is growing, fueled by the creativity and aspirations of communities around the world.
Last October, a woman in San Francisco named America collected 350 quilt squares, each two feet by two feet, and assembled a giant, international “350 Reasons Quilt” that she now takes to schools when she speaks to children about caring for our planet. Each square holds an image of something the individual quilter loves deeply on Earth, something threatened by climate change. Each square serves as a quilter’s pledge to do all they can to protect the planet’s fraying web of life. What would be on your square? Come share your ideas and energy at San Antonio’s Global Work Party on 10/10/10. You can join us by volunteering at the Roots of Change Community Garden `1416 E. Commerce` from 8 a.m. until noon, followed by carbon-busting festivities until 2 p.m. For info and to sign up go to 350SanAntonio.org.
Mobi Warren is the founder of 350SanAntonio.org, a local fifth-grade teacher, and poet who leads monthly “haiku hikes” at Government Canyon.
Saytown Lowdown is a regular San Antonio Current feature that allows thinkers from across the community spectrum to expound upon the vital issues of our day. Submit your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.