Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What Is 350?

Over the last several years I have been able to connect with a few friendly people who are also involved with activities that protect and heal our home, the Earth. We share emails and ideas and keep each other posted about community events. At the beginning part of October I received an email informing me about an upcoming event meant to raise awareness about climate change. Seemed like the sort of thing that I should be involved with, so Joanne and I attended.

Because this event had to do with climate change Jo’ and I decided to enjoy a walk to the bus stop and a trip through the downtown core where we delighted in seeing all the colours of Autumn painted on every tree. This bus ride took us to John Paul II High School where the ‘350’ event was about to take place. Many people had biked to this event and one lady enjoyed all the attention her special bike received.

One of the first things that I noticed was this colourfully painted banner that must have been created as a youth group effort. It’s hard to read clearly – as it’s printed so small – but in the upper left there is a quote which reads, “If everyone helps to hold up the sky, then one person does not become tired!”

There were a few of us gathered, chatting away, when someone asked me what 350 meant. I shrugged and then we chatted about what it could represent. A minute later I decided to ask a person who I know would know. I was told that 350 represents the ‘parts per million – ppm’ ratio of the greatest amount of carbon dioxide that is acceptable in our atmosphere for continued life on this planet. I was also told that our atmosphere is unfortunately, at 380ppm and that our world is adding 2ppm every year. YIKES!!! I returned and shared that story with my group and then it was time for the event to begin.

It was great to see such a diverse crowd with grandparents holding the hands of their grandchildren, high school students, moms, dads and a few furry four-legged friends. The speaker told of the meaning of 350, the history of these calculations (in 1870 the number was reaching ever higher but 280 is better than our present situation), and that we were the voice to carry our community’s concern to parliament. She also informed us that hundreds of other gatherings – just like ours - were happening on this same day in countries around the world.

I thought that this was brilliant and amazing – for the first time ever, humanity can join together in positive actions, uniting as one…

… and these are just a few of the photos from different cities around the world!!

Over the last decade or so, I have witnessed several events that have reached around the world in positive ways and this makes me happy. At this point in humanity’s existence we are just beginning to take positive actions and I’m confident that this movement will continue to build momentum.

After a few more words from some other local environmental groups we were asked to raise our voice – and document it, too! – by signing a petition that would be taken to our government.

Now it was time for our group to create our own ‘350’ for the world… we just had to wait a few minutes as a couple of cameramen climbed on top of the school’s roof. While we waited, several smaller groups took photos…

… and this person entertained us with a little drumming!

It was quite a comical event as we organized ourselves to shape the numbers 3, 5 and 0. One person, on the roof, would yell down that the bottom of the 5 was crooked and people bellow would move around a bit only to hear, “Wait! That’s even worse!!”, coming from above. But we did eventually get it right – LOL!!!!

After the successful photograph we were all asked to walk – or ride bike – around the school track, three times… and we all did!!! For part of our walk the lady with the drum pounded out a beat and a simple song that most people joined in singing.

There were even a few dogs that wanted to say something about climate change, as well! Lots of small conversations broke out, here and there, throughout the group. For me, it was a chance to say ‘hello’ to a few people that I knew. It seems like every time I attend an event of this nature I bump into a few of the same people… and this is a great thing!!!

As you can see, it was quite a windy day!!!! The cool, crisp air made us want to keep moving to keep warm!

After this event was over and ‘goodbyes’ and ‘see ya laters’ were done, Jo’ and I hopped back on the bus for a trip into the downtown core. After a bowl of potato with roasted garlic soup Joanne and I split up for a few hours. Jo’ had some shopping to do and I wanted to stay downtown to attend a 350 meeting at the Central Library.

There was a really big turn out for this event – many of the same people were there from that morning and a large number of others. We listened, watched and learned a lot about climate change and how it’s affecting our planet. We shared some of our own stories about actions we had taken and many people left feeling inspired. Of course, one final group photograph was taken… which later appeared in the premier edition of Ecovox!

I was able to hand out lots of my peace Stik-ers to all the children – old and young – and I had several conversations with a number of interesting people.

I decided to enjoy some more of the fall colours, so I walked home from the library. My walk took me past a farmer’s market, an outdoor play area for children, a couple of bridges and lots of homes getting ready for Halloween. I think that it is a wonder of Nature to herald in the change of seasons with such a variety of textures and colours. While I write this I’m looking out my window at the bare trees and snow covered ground remembering with fondness the pallet of colours that warmed our hearts just a few months ago.

Stay warm and think happy thoughts!

ps - for more information about 350 please visit www.350.org

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