Local activists take part in Climate Action Day
Creating international policies to curb climate change is no walk in the park. But that is just what world leaders aim to do this December, when the United Nations Climate Change Conference converges on Copenhagen, Denmark. The goal of the conference is to draft an international resolution that will replace the Kyoto Protocol, which is set to expire in 2012.
Half a world away, here in Santa Cruz, it may be hard to imagine what impact an individual could have on the conference. But according to Micah Posner of People Power, making a difference is simple. All Santa Cruzans have to do is head downtown to the clock tower at 2 p.m. this Saturday to hear speeches from City Supervisor Mark Stone, City Climate Czar Ross Clark and bear witness to the trial of a private automobile.
“We need to empower each other, and stepping up is how that happens,” Posner says. “Coming down and listening to some of the leaders and getting more information is a way to show that you care, but also to help you care. … You’ll realize you’re not alone in taking on responsibility” for curbing climate change. “And it’s going to be fun! We’re going to put a car on trial.”
In Santa Cruz, Posner explains, personal automobile use accounts for 50 percent of all carbon emissions, the only source in the region still climbing. “If we are going to do something about global warming,” he says, “we have got to start driving less.”
The event is only one of four organized in Santa Cruz for the International Day of Climate Action, a worldwide grassroots movement spearheaded by 350.org. Using the mobilizing power of the Web, 350.org has spurred individuals and groups all over the world into action. On Oct. 24, 163 countries will participate in a cumulative 3,769 unique demonstrations of climate change awareness.
The number 350 is significant to the organization’s mission, which is to reduce carbon dioxide levels in the in the Earth’s atmosphere to below 350 parts per million. Currently our atmosphere contains 387 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Symbolic gestures featuring the number will be made across the globe: school children will plant 350 trees in Bangladesh, banners inscribed with the number will be hung on the Easter Island statues and 350 scuba divers will congregate underwater near the Great Barrier Reef. Photographs of these actions will be posted to the 350.org Web site, where all registered events can also be viewed.
In addition to the clock tower car trial, UCSC is holding the seventh annual Practical Activism conference, which will feature spoken word performances, keynote speaker Bettina Aptheker and activism workshops. Not all workshops are related to climate change, however. The conference will be held in the College Nine and College Ten multipurpose room.
The ethos of the 350.org mission may be summed up in the familiar axiom, “Think globally. Act locally,” which has been repeated ad nauseam for decades but still rings true. Reducing auto use takes planning, Posner says. Shopping locally, working locally and planning trips are just a few examples of ways to reduce one’s carbon footprint. It’s a message not just for the leaders planning to meet in Copenhagen, he says.
“It’s for all of us. We need to wake up.”
PRE EVENT WORK PARTIES
Cape and banner-making from 2:30-5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22 at People Power, 703 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz. Please bring any supplies you might have to contribute! Contact 425-0665.
SATURDAY OCT. 24 THE DAY AT A GLANCE
”Hoisting The Sails to 350: An Oceanic Plea for Greenhouse Gas Reduction.” Three boats will set sail with banners displaying boldly the number 350. Bring cameras and media. Gather at the end of the Santa Cruz Wharf with banners and signs to show your support for 350. This will be a great chance to educate the public about climate change. Hang around—main rally march down to the Town Clock Plaza begins from the wharf at 1 p.m. (Organized by Greg Cotten and a City of Santa Cruz: Climate Action Team. For more information, contact (831) 239-6192. Learn more at 30×20.org.) Time: 11 a.m-12:30 p.m.
Rally march begins at 1 p.m. at the Santa Cruz Muinicpal Wharf after the sail boats return to the harbor. The march will be a focal point for the day and help build momentum for the downtown rally. Bring your enthusiasm and 350 signs! The march leaves the wharf then heads down Pacific Avenue to the corner of River Street and Ocean Avenue. It then proceeds to the Town Clock for the main rally at 2 p.m. contact [email protected] or call (831) 331-3072. Initial Gathering Time: Between 12:30 and 1 p.m.
PEOPLE POWER of Santa Cruz kicks off the rally at 2 p.m. and will be staging a peaceful and orderly “Mock Trial” of the private automobile, the largest contributing source of CO2 in our state and county. Presided over by the honorable Fred Keeley (past leader pro tem of the California Senate), sentencing will follow. Cyclists needed to help transport the defendant. To volunteer, call (831) 425-0665. In addition there will be speakers, petition signing and potential information booths all contributing to make the Rally successful in bringing citizen/media attention to International Climate Action Day. (Mark W. Stone, 5th District Supervisor, will be making a guest appearance at the rally.)
Potluck. (Bring your own utensils!) Live music, informative/inspiring presentations, and the film A Convenient Truth: Urban Solutions from Curitibia, Brazil. For more information, (831) 246-3466.