On October 24, 2009, people around the world united for what CNN called “the most widespread day of political action in our planet’s history.” Thousands of activists rallied under the banner of 350 — that is, 350 parts-per-million, the safe level of CO2 in the atmosphere.
The number has become a symbol of the grassroots climate movement. Now that the top-down approach has failed in both Copenhagen and Washington, concerned citizens of the earth are resorting more than ever to organizing from the bottom up. Today, 10/10/10, is proof.
The folks at 350.org designated October 10 as a “Global Work Party.” While the event is organized similarly to last year’s action day, there are two main differences. First, the Work Party is much bigger. At 7347 events in 188 countries, it easily tops the stunning figures from last October.
The second difference: Today’s Work Party is just that — a work party. Not an action party. Not a tea party. Participants aren’t just waving signs and demanding change; they’re building, repairing, planting, and installing change. At any time, you could find people educating and protesting for every cause imaginable, but not all of them could boast that they actually did something practical. From planting community gardens to installing solar panels, 350.org actions are moving us closer to that number. (In fact, the movement got a boost a few days ago when Barack Obama re-installed White House solar panels that Jimmy Carter had put up and Ronald Reagan had taken down.)
The message to political leaders is, “If we can get to work, so can you.” Of course, whether they will listen is another matter entirely. The climate movement must continue to grow after today and after this year. Eventually all those voices will be impossible to ignore.
In any case, it’s a heck of a lot better than just writing letters.