350.org Holds Climate Change Awareness Event in Atlanta

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(APN) ATLANTA — Tuesday, November 20, 2012, at the Variety Playhouse, Bill McKibben, President and Co-Founder of 350.org, spoke to a sold-out audience of several hundred Metro Atlantans about the global social problem of climate change.

350.org is an international organization with staff members in the US, Brazil, Burundi, India, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, and Ukraine.

According to its mission statement, “to build a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis and to preserve our planet, scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 392 parts per million to below 350 ppm.  But 350 is more than a number—it’s a symbol of where we need to head as a planet.”

The theme of this event was “Do the Math,” and the event focused on the urgency of lowering CO2 levels around the world and how our current level of global current consumption could lead up to disaster.

The event was part of a month and a half tour which included close to half of the US states, including Atlanta; Boston, Massachusetts; New York; and Los Angeles and San Francisco, California; in addition to Washington, DC.

“We can burn less than 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide.  Anything more than that risks catastrophe for life on Earth,” McKibben told Atlanta Progressive News.

“Fossil fuel corporations now have 2,795 gigatons in their reserves, five times the safe amount. And they’re planning to burn it all, unless we start a political movement to stop them,” McKibben said.

When asked specifics what his organization was focusing on, McKibben says their goal “is to get as many people to join 350.org and participate in the grassroots movement.”

McKibben talked about a major protest coming up on President’s Day weekend in Washington, DC, that will protest the proposed, controversial Keystone Pipeline, “which will be a huge  problem for the climate crisis.”  

“Disinvestment is a huge priority and many churches and universities are pulling out their investment to oil companies and other polluters,” he said.  “These investments are billions.  Disinvestment is very powerful and already has made a huge impact.  We need to make producing oil unprofitable for these companies,” McKibben said.

“The only way to stop the climate crisis is to stop the production of oil and moving to other clean power sources,” he said.

When asked his opinion on natural gas, he said, “the release of methane from fracking is a huge problem and although it can be a better alternative, if the methane leaks it can be a much worse threat to our environment than fossil fuel, and a slow leak can be catastrophic.”

McKibben tells everyone to “turn off lights, drive less, and join 350.org, which will give you support in getting your church or university or employer to disinvest, plus it will keep you up to date on what is going on.”

The after party was sponsored by Sierra Club.  Seth Gunning, who runs the Beyond Coal campaign for Sierra Club, talked to participants .

In an interview with APN, Gunning agreed with McKibben, saying “We must all do what we can to stop the C02 emissions to avoid more climate disasters.”

When asked about fracking, he said, “The Sierra Club now has a Beyond Gas campaign, because of the risk of methane leaks.  A two percent methane leak negates the benefit, and a four to eight percent leak will greatly speed up our already catastrophic climate problems.  We also participate in environmental litigation.”

According to 350.org’s website, “We operate at a large scale to take on the world’s greatest challenge.  In October of 2009 we coordinated 5,200 simultaneous rallies and demonstrations in 181 countries, what CNN called the ‘most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.’  On 10/10/10, we organized the ‘Global Work Party’–a day of climate solutions projects, from solar panel installations to community garden plantings–and changed communities from the bottom up with over 7,000 events in 188 countries.”

“We are planning several protests in 2013 and another protest will be at Exxon headquarters, which will be announced,” McKibben said.

“Our global grassroots movement has the power to change the climate crisis, so please join in and make a difference before climate change makes Earth uninhabitable,” he said.

(END/2012)

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