Vermont Interfaith Power and Light

A faith-based response to global climate change

350.org's Day of Action calls for leadership
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Local events planned

Burlington Free Press
October 18, 2009

Our children and grandchildren will judge us by the decisions that are made in the next few months. There is a tremendous opportunity for us all to come together to solve the greatest problem that humanity has ever faced.
We stand at a precipice. The planet’s climate is changing, and the effects from it are all around us. Low-lying Pacific islands are negotiating with those gifted with higher altitudes to move their populations once their homelands go underwater. Historic wildfires batter the Western parts of the United States, threatening millions of people and the brave firefighters who protect them. Violent storms are rocking Asia, causing flooding in the Phillipines, India and Vietnam.

The effects of global warming will only get worse the longer that collective action is delayed.

It is a moral and ethical responsibility that this country takes a leadership role in international negotiations this December to craft a new global treaty that drastically reduces our global-warming pollution. It might be uncomfortable for some to admit, but the United States has played a major role in the climate crisis, which will affect the poorest people the greatest.

We have the resources to help developing countries cope with climate change, and we must commit to it. Renewable technologies can move us away from our addiction to fossil fuels and will also create much-needed jobs in this country.

For too long, coal and oil companies have shaped public perceptions into skepticism and denial on the reality of global warming, while the rest of the world has been waiting for the United States to engage with the international community. President Obama needs to lead the world toward a solution to the climate crisis that is based on the latest climate science, not the demands of the fossil-fuel industry and its backers in Congress.

This coming Saturday, there will be a global day of action coordinated by 350.org to urge world leaders to take bold and immediate steps to address climate change and reduce carbon emissions. Scientists have insisted in recent years that 350 parts per million is the most carbon dioxide we can safely have in the atmosphere. The current CO2 concentration is 390 ppm. Some 89 countries already have endorsed the 350 target, as has the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri; the world’s foremost climate economist, Sir Nicholas Stern; and Nobel-prize winner Al Gore.

We will be participating in a march and rally Saturday in Burlington, along with thousands of others in towns and cities across Vermont. The event is one of more than 2,000 in some 150 countries that will call on President Obama and other world leaders to secure a fair, ambitious and binding global treaty in Copenhagen this December at the U.N. Climate Change Conference. We are calling on everyone across the state to participate in what will be the largest global day of climate action ever.

The climate science is not changing. The planet is heating up faster than we ever knew it could. What needs to change is the political situation in this country that allows us to be held back by coal and oil lobbyists in Washington. President Obama promised a new style of politics on the campaign trail, and he pledged to take on the special interest groups that far too often have the ears of our leaders.

This Saturday, Oct 24, people across Vermont and the entire world will be standing up to be heard. Please join us so that our voices are strong and united as we call for climate justice. Visit 350.org to find an event near you.

This essay was written by Jarred Cobb, northeast field organizer, Greenpeace USA, jcobb@greeenpeace.org; Betsy Hardy, coordinator, Vermont Interfaith Power and Light, info@vtipl.org; Nathaly Agosto Filion, community organizer, Vermont Oxfam Action Corps, nathaly.agostofilion@gmail.com; Cami Davis, artist, UVM faculty, cdavis@uvm.edu; and Tom Mertz, political activist and Burlington native, tmertz@uvm.edu.

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