Last Saturday was the 350 International Day of Climate Action, tens of thousands of people gathered around the world in hundreds of countries to raise awareness about the risk of climate change across the planet.
350 incase you were wondering, is the safe limit for carbon dioxide in the world and right now we have a concentration of co2 of 390 ppm. So we need to radically reduce our carbon emissions if we want to live in a safe planet.
The scale of the action worldwide was a first of it’s kind and it is pretty awe-inspiring to see how many different people got together and acted, putting their heads together to come up with ideas and imaginative responses, to Bates college having a impromptu dance, to divers in Perhentian Island, Malyasia spending Saturday cleaning a coral reef and people marking out 350 in the middle of an American football pitch.
Led by Rising Tide North America, Carbon Trade Watch, the Camp for Climate Action and the Mobilization for Climate Justice one of the main aims was to expose the failures of carbon offset schemes such as the displacement of food crops, the burning of valuable resources and massive subsidies given to oil and coal.
The actions weren’t just symbolic; people in Kenya mobilized the youth of the community to clean up the garbage and use it to mark out 350, which was also replicated in Hungary.
The fact that people around the world understood and were educating people about the science behind climate change was also a great action in itself. Often sceptics need facts and figures and seeing hundreds and thousands of people responding to this number meant climate change reached out on a whole new level. People often had to ask what this specific number was about, which also meant everybody on the day had to explain to public and passers by.
The mass actions, grouped together people to use their bodies to mark out 350, whether in front of pyramids, next to the sea or other famous landmarks across the globe.
I went down to the mass action/art installation in London just in front of the London eye to take part.
We mingled around as 2 o’clock was coming up, and as the crowd grew it attracted more and more people to come and join in, for who can really resist a crowd?
With people spending the morning outreaching to the public along the busy embankment by 2 o’clock we had at least 500 people ready to spend their time making some climate art. I was wondering how many were there for the spectacle rather than the cause, but after a couple of speakers trying to shout their messages as loud as possible through a megaphone meant at least everybody was fairly clear why we were there.
After snaking around marked out area we created a huge five, with the three coming from Sydney and the zero from Copenhagen it was really was a global act. Jumping, crouching and waving we played to the camera and after the pictures were taken the crowd dispersed.
Climate science gained even more integrity, seeing so many people acting is hard to put down as a few scaremongerers and hippy folk looking to upset the status quo, it was a global mass movement that is growing in momentum leading up to Copenhagen talks in December, where world leaders will meet to attempt to solve the climate problem.
As it was the day of action however I had a few misgivings, were these human art installations just gimmicks and would we need to see more direct responses to divert the runway effects of climate change like the Great Climate Swoop last week? Did people think by just using art to persuade governments to act against the powerful corporations would be enough to stop the growing selfish acts of capitalism? Albeit as people walked away it definitely felt it was at least one step in the right direction, just not a giant leap.
350, action, art, camp for climate action, Carbon Trade Watch, Climate Change, coal, copenhagen, global, human art, International Day of Climate Action, london, london eye, oil, outreach, protest, rising tide, science, The Great Climate Swoop
- COP15: The action starts now
- The Great Climate Swoop – the mass action of the year!
- Reclaiming power at Copenhagen!
- Warm-up for Copenhagen!
- The Great Climate Swoop 2009: A retrospective