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Climate Action Day designed as strong pre-Copenhagen push

Youth support the "350" goal outside the United Nations in New York City. (Photo by Shadia Fayne Wood)

Posted by Rob Klovance

Depending on which community you live in, you could find yourself as a witness to – or perhaps as a participant in – an International Day of Climate Action event this Saturday, October 24.

Climate Action Day is the brainchild of 350.org, and your decision to get involved will depend in a large part on your views about climate change and what should be done about it. It's the opinion of 350.org that there's plenty of scientific evidence to support a worldwide movement to not only arrest climate change, but to actually reverse it.

The "350" in 350.org represents 350 parts per million of CO2 emissions, the level a growing number of scientists and politicians believe is the limit before the planet "faces both human and natural disaster". The current number is 390 parts per million, a level many now consider to be way above the limit at which humanity is safe.

The timing of the Day of Climate Action is designed as a show of support and political pressure in advance of world leaders meeting this December at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen to draw up a new treaty on cutting CO2 emissions. Organizers of Canadian events would specifically like to see a change of emissions policy from our federal government.

"Through spectacle and sheer numbers, the goal is send a powerful message to Ottawa that Canadians care and want to see strong, positive leadership on this issue," Vancouver 'Bridge to a Cool Planet' founder Brent Washbrook said in a recent interview in Granville Magazine, adding: "[And to] have fun, and inspire those who feel overwhelmed at the thought of taking action on this issue. This is our future we're trying to create – we should have a good time making it happen!"

The Bridge to a Cool Planet is just one of many Day of Climate Action events scheduled for B.C. this Saturday, but it will likely be the largest. Organizers expect thousands to gather on Cambie Street Bridge starting at 11:30 a.m. and be there for a "banner drop" at noon and a parade that ends with a variety of activities around Science World.

Three days shy of the Day of Climate Action, 350.org was claiming 4,294 actions in 170 countries worldwide. They are asking supporters to "organize an action incorporating the number 350 at an iconic place in their community, and then upload a photo of their event to the 350.org website." They plan to collect all the images, deliver them to the media and to world leaders.

350.org members include a list of elite athletes from professional and amateur sport. Among them are husband-and-wife Canadian Olympians Sara Renner and Thomas Grandi, who have been active in leading 350's movement in Canmore, Alberta, where they live. They'll be leading a rally in Canmore this Saturday, a march from the Civic Centre to Quarry Lake.

Grandi has taken the year off from competitive alpine skiing to care for the couple's daughter. Renner, a cross-country skier who won an Olympic silver medal as part of Canada's team sprint at the 2006 Torino Games, has been training and competing in anticipation of the 2010 Winter Games.

Rob Klovance is managing editor of bchydro.com.

Views expressed in Unplug This Blog! do not necessarily reflect those of BC Hydro.