Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ring Your Church Bells 350 Times On October 25

Bill McKibben, a scholar at Vermont's Middlebury College, may be the most prominent climate activist in the country. He's been behind many (most?) of the biggest global warming demonstrations, including a 2006 walk across Vermont that was at that time the largest anti-climate change action in history, a day of 1,400 decentralized protests around the country in 2007, and the annual DC college student gathering Power Shift. He is the author of many books about nature, climate change, and even faith.

McKibben's latest project is 350 ppm of carbon is the sustainable limit for our planet, as in 350 parts of carbon out of every million parts of atmosphere. The planet currently sits at 390 ppm, a number that, if left unchecked, will raise ocean levels, raise ocean temperatures, and create drought in some regions. The phrase "350 or bust" is not just fancy rhetoric to paint on your car - if we don't get that low, scientists like IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri and NASA's James Hansen say that we WILL bust, end of story.

McKibben and his staff are organizing a "Day of International Climate Action" on October 24 to raise visibility for and awareness of 350 as a number and goal. It's easy to get involved: get a group together, register on, and then take a picture of y'all doing something to highlight the number in your community, like the pictures in this post (the one at right is a garden in Cameroon, and one below is using endangered Greenland ice!) and at 350's Flickr page. One simple thing you can do is ask your pastor or other church leader if your church can ring its bell 350 times, either on the Day of Action or the next day, a Sunday. Here's an e-mail with some great ideas sent to the Episcopal Ecologial Network list:

On Sunday, October 25th, parishioners from St. Paul's Memorial Church (Charlottesville, Virginia) will ring our church bell 350 times as part of an international campaign called to urgently call our community to awareness and action in addressing the global climate change crisis. 350 parts per million is the goal for this campaign as it is the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. Human activity currently emits 385 parts per million of CO2 globally and is rising rapidly, a trajectory that will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth. To tackle climate change we need to move quickly, and we need to act in unison—and 2009 will be an absolutely crucial year. This December, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark to craft a new global treaty on cutting emissions. The problem is, the treaty currently on the table doesn't meet the severity of the climate crisis—it doesn't pass the 350 test. In order to unite the public, media, and our political leaders behind the goal of 350 ppm, is coordinating a planetary day of climate action on October 24, 2009.

Please note St. Paul’s is ringing bells on Sunday, the 25th, at 11:30 after our Sunday morning service. We invite all the churches in the Virginia Diocese and especially our local Region XV to join St. Paul’s in taking action on this day to support the 350 goal by ringing the church bell or hand bells 350 times. We held a similar bell-ringing event last December that included a letter-writing campaign, cookies for families, and banners created by our youth groups, and it was a memorable and compelling event. This year we are recruiting other churches in town so that on Sunday the 25th around noontime, our community will hear the church bells echoing from the hills.

Please see and St. Paul’s Green Team webpages for additional ideas and materials on how your congregation or community group can join in.

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