The program at the Unitarian Society in Hamden began with a slide show of some of the grassroots events that have been organized over the past several years in every country in the world except North Korea to draw attention to the need for governments to address climate disruption, already arrived and growing as the Earth continues to warm. The group takes its name from the fact that NASA climate scientist James Hansen has said we must reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to no more than 350 parts per million in order to avoid irreversible and catastrophic climate change. Since we're already at around 390 ppm, that's a tall order.
Anyway, even though I've seen similar slide shows many times on my computer, seeing these images on a big screen hit me in a different way and made me realize how truly awesome (in the original meaning of the word) this movement is: people gathering in the most industrialized nations on earth, as well as the poorest and most threatened, like small island nations, to say Enough already!
McKibben, who authored the first book on the subject of climate change for the general public (The End of Nature in 1989) has a way with words and can be funny while addressing a very serious topic. At one point he gave the U.S. Congress a back-handed compliment, saying members had been totally successful at blocking any climate change legislation for a quarter century. You can visit the Promoting Enduring Peace website to watch his talk.
And click here to learn more about 35o.org's current campaigns: the Fossil Free divestment campaign that started on campuses but has spread to local governments and religious congregations; the Do the Math movie that debuted tonight, with highlights from the Do the Math post-2012-election tour explaining why fossil fuel companies can burn no more than a fifth of the coal, oil and gas in the ground without triggering catastrophic climate change; and the ongoing effort to convince President Obama to deny a permit for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry heavy crude (diluted bitumen, or "dilbit," one of the dirtiest forms of energy). It's the same stuff that recently spilled in Mayflower, Arkansas, and the same stuff that spilled a few years ago in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. A tiny on-line news source called InsideClimate News just won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting for its coverage of that spill.
And this guy found a creative way to bring his opposition to KXL to an audience that probably doesn't hear too much about it: professional golfers.