You all know that a scythe is an efficient and powerful way to cut a field. But this fall, it can also be a potent tool for helping change the world. I'm writing to ask if you'll take some time on October 24 to help send a message to the rest of the planet, in a way that only you can do it.
As you know, global warming is proceeding even faster than scientists have feared. In the last two years we've seen the very rapid melt of Arctic sea ice, the spread of mosquito-borne disease to hundreds of places once beyond its reach, and the wildfires that are becoming annually more common. It's clear that climate change is a present crisis, not one for the future -- and a crisis that can be seen, among other places,in farm fields the world over, where drought and flood have begun to alternate in devastating fashion. But it's also clear that so far our leaders have not addressed it on the scale it must be addressed.
Now, with the crucial global negotiations looming on the horizon in Copenhagen, we can do something to help change that. The world's foremost climatologist, NASA's James Hansen, and his team last year declared that 350 parts per million co2 was the most carbon we could safely have in the atmosphere. That's a tough number, because we're already past it. At the moment, the atmosphere holds 387 ppm co2, which is why we're seeing deadly blazes in Australia and oceans acidifying so rapidly that scientists think coral reefs may not survive past mid-century.
The 350 target is the most important number in the world. It's been endorsed by leaders ranging from Al Gore to the Dalai Lama -- who pointed to the rapid melt of Tibetan glaciers and said "concerned people of the world and all people of good heart should be aware of 350 and act on it.
We've got a way for you to act on it. On October 24,
But I can't think of a more compelling image than some fields with a giant "350" cut into them, especially if it's been cut by hand. We can take images like this -- assuming you can figure out a way to get up high enough to photograph them -- and spread them around the world. They'll remind people not only that our agriculture is at risk as we change the weather, but also that there are plenty of jobs we can do without fossil fuel -- remind people that the scythe can be a tool of the future, not just the past.
We'd be incredibly grateful for your help!
I'm back home with my family for a few days, after the third long organizing trip of the past few months.
In a way, this trip was the most extraordinary, because it took me to places where you wouldn't necessarily expect climate organizing to be going full force. But it is--people everywhere are figuring out that 350 is the most important number on earth, that October 24 is going to be the most widespread day of climate action ever, and that six weeks before the big UN talks in Copenhagen we'll stand together to change the debate on climate change.
The biggest lesson from my trip? That this movement is building in the most unlikely of places. India, for instance--whose people are not, by and large, big emitters of CO2, and whose leaders have so far been reluctant to even consider taking on international commitments to fight against warming. But from the Rotary Clubs of Mumbai to the temples of Varanasi to the lawn of Delhi's Nehru Museum and Library (where thousands of schoolkids formed a giant 350 and a gorgeous Bengal tiger), I found people gearing up for October 24, and determined to play their part in helping prevent the melt of Himalayan glaciers or the drying of the Ganges.
And in the oil-rich states of the Persian Gulf, I had no idea what to expect. But our friends at IndyAct, the Arab world's climate leaders, connected us with amazing organizers in places like Abu Dhabi and Oman. Some were in chadors or flowing dishdasha; all were eager to spread the word.
And on and on, in every corner of the globe. It's sort of hard to believe until you see it--which is why I hope you'll stay plugged into the campaign in every way the web now allows. First of all, if you're not yet connected to us on Facebook, now's the time--not only does our Facebook page kelp keep track of this global movement, but also lets you connect directly to other 350 advocates and activists all over the world:
And Twitter--I've only just gotten around to joining up myself. I was deeply skeptical at first, but I'm now starting to understand that Twitter's micro-messages allow a new and interesting kind of conversation. You can follow me at www.twitter.com/billmckibben and the official campaign at www.twitter.com/350
We hope you enjoy watching the movement build online -- but moreover we hope that these online channels inspire you to organize an offline action of your own. If your community isn't yet on the map, sign up here: www.350.org/oct24
One of the messages I kept hearing as I traveled was: "we're eager to be heard!" In the developing world, especially, people are excited at the thought that the rest of the planet will be paying attention to them on October 24 -- that by taking action, photographing their local event, and spreading it online, they'll be collaborating with people spreading exactly the same message no matter where they are on this planet.
It's a beautiful vision -- Kansas and Cancun, New York and New Delhi, Boston and Beirut, connecting and collaborating across borders. It's exactly what we need to do with this most global of all problems -- thanks for playing your part!