In a global day of action today, Saturday, May 5, communities will "connect the dots” between extreme weather and climate change during Climate Impacts Day.
Climate Impacts Day is sponsored by 350.org, an international grassroots climate campaign active in more than 180 countries around the world. “350” stands for 350 parts per million (ppm), the safe upper limit of carbon in the atmosphere. The current carbon level is 392 ppm and rising.
350.org suggests that the planet is in its danger zone because there is too much carbon in the atmosphere, and as a result, we’re starting to see signs of real trouble: melting ice caps, rapidly spreading drought, severe flooding. By making immediate changes, 350.org says we can get back to the safe zone and avoid runaway climate change.
“For people everywhere, the climate crisis is no longer some distant, abstract challenge,” says Bill McKibben, author, environmentalist, activist and founder of 350.org. “It's here, it’s real, and its impacts are already being felt. And people everywhere are taking notice.”
In communities across the globe, people are responding to 350.org’s call to action by staging events that will educate residents on the climate crisis. With or without a staged event, the grassroots campaign urges people to photograph how climate change has already hit home in their communities. 350.org will then create a “global mosaic that connects the dots.” Photos will be delivered to global media and decision-makers—the people who most urgently need to connect the dots. 350.org is calling it a “planetary wake-up call.”
“Where I live in Vermont, we’ll make a human bridge to mark the real ones swept away in last fall’s record rains,” McKibben says. “In Faridabad, India, where they have the opposite problem, they’ll gather on the banks of the drying Yamuna River. From one end of the earth to the other, we’ll rally to point out that there is no longer any doubt that burning coal and gas and oil is changing our planet.”
To support these claims, McKibben suggests reading the 593-page report issued in March by the United Nations focusing on climate change and weather extremes.
Here at home, Elmhurst Cool Cities Coalition is forwarding photos, courtesy of Patch.com, from community-wide flooding. Too often storms or droughts are seen as one-time, isolated events, even though scientists say these events fit a pattern. Cool Cities hopes to help make that pattern visible—to connect the dots.
“In 2008, we were hit with seven inches of rain in a 24 hour period,” says Sue Williams, Elmhurst Cool Cities Co-chairman. “You could call that a freak act of nature, but these extreme weather events are occurring more often, here in our own community and around the world.”
For more information on Climate Impacts Day, visit 350.org. To post a photo demonstrating the local effects of climate change, click here.
Writer Barbara Lonergan contributes a regular feature for the Elmhurst Cool Cities Coalition titled, We Caught You Doing Something Cool. If you spot someone around town doing something cool to impact the environment, contact Elmhurst Cool Cities at firstname.lastname@example.org. Elmhurst Cool Cities Coalition is a volunteer coalition of local institutions, organizations, business leaders and citizens working to achieve the goals of the Sierra Club Cool Cities campaign and the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement.