350 Updates

Interfaith Healing Seder for the Earth

As the spring approaches in the northern hemisphere, many of us will celebrate Passover, Easter and other holidays of remembrance and rebirth. It's a special time of the year that compels us to think about our relationships to each other and to creation--that's why our friends at the Shalom Center have developed a powerful Interfaith Healing Seder for the Earth. See below for a couple quotes that kick off the ceremony, and click more to see the whole thing:

Ten Plagues, Ten Healings

WISDOM FOR THE JOURNEY

 

“I felt as if my legs were praying.” — Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, coming back home from the voting-rights March in Selma, Alabama, 1965

“Prayer is meaningless unless it is subversive, unless it seeks to overthrow and to ruin the pyramids of callousness, hatred, opportunism, falsehoods.”  — Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, 1970

more...

 

From Flood-struck Mauritius: Climate Change is Hitting Us. We Need to Wake Up.

Just over a week ago, the island of Mauritius, located in the Indian Ocean was struck by prolific flooding - but it was barely reported by media anywhere. Deepti Panray, who works with the local NGO, Environmental Protection and Conservation Organisation sent us this first hand account. Our thoughts go out to the people of Mauritius as they recover from the devastation.


Today my country has suffered a shock that has traumatised the whole population. We have been experiencing torrential rains since last night Tuesday 12th February 2013. And as I am typing this now, rain is still pouring outside. My country has had to face flash floods and land slides as a result of such strong torrential rains. Many people are without shelter and food tonight. Drains and rivers were overflooding, barriers built quickly to keep the water at bay did not hold long enough before roads were flooded. People woke up in the middle of the night with metres of water inside their homes. People had to tie their cars to their garages so that the water would not carry them away. So many people were injured trying to save the bare minimum to survive and sustain their families.

No strategic plans were put into place despite the calamities of the last floods in 2008. The Disaster Management Committee is owned by the government and only kept making public statements in the press to say that everything is under control while people in dire straits kept calling local radios. The population of Mauritius will not forget the events of today and I hope they will learn from what happened because this is going to happen again and again in the face of climate change.

The extreme weather events that took place in Mauritius today are signs of the direct impact Climate Change has on our weather patterns. Not only have we been experiencing a more diverse set of micro climates but we have now faced prolonged torrential rains that have resulted in flash floods and landslides. People's lives are at stake and no disaster management plans have been put in place so far. Most of our population are still ignorant about the phenomenon of climate change and its related impacts and issues. An ignorant population makes us even MORE vulnerable to climate change. And ignorant stubborn leaders and authorities who refuse to face the unavoidable makes us the MOST vulnerable.

This experience has made me tense and very angry. We are helpless against the forces of mother nature but this does not mean that we have to be totally ignorant in dealing and adapting to impacts of Climate Change. Mitigation, adaptation and resilience are key to challenging and hopefully overcoming extreme weather events associated with climate change impacts. I feel powerless in the face of the series of bad decisions that local authorities keep taking, previously during the 2008 floods that shocked the country and now during the actual floods that are still happening throughout the island of Mauritius.

I wish I could voice out my opinions so that more people could hear me out and become aware of how ignorant we presently are and how this ignorance is causing more damage to us. I wish people would stop blindly following what the government says they must do. I wish those people would take charge and mobilize to make the local authorities realize that they have a responsibility towards the population. I feel it is time we take our futures in our own hands and make those global shifts happen because whether we like it or not, climate change is catching up with us. I feel it is time we just stop simply reacting.. but start choosing to ACT!

 

The Story of #ForwardOnClimate

Great Media Coverage for “Forward on Climate” and Keystone XL Protest

Another great outcome from this weekend’s “Forward on Climate” rally in Washington, DC, was the tremendous amount of media attention it generated.

Civil Disobedience at the White House 

The action started last Wednesday, when 48 movement leaders were arrested during a sit-in at the White House. The “papers of record” like the Washington Post and New York Times picked up the story, quoting participants like Sierra Club President Michael Brune and civil rights leader Julian Bond. Reuters, Politico, Fortune, NPR, the Associated Press, the Hill, the Examiner, and others also covered the rally. 

At the same time, highly-trafficked gossip sites like Perezhilton.comE Online, and People gasped at the sight of teenage heart-throb (and Taylor Swift ex-boyfriend) Conor Kennedy getting arrested at the action. 

"We aren't sure how Conor came to be involved," gushed Perez, "But we bet his great-uncle John F. Kennedy — a legendary American who once lived in the residence where the protest was staged — would be proud as peach pie to see a descendant risk his reputation for a cause he deemed worthy." 

Local papers picked up the story. In Nebraska, the Journal Star profiled the farmers and ranchers who got arrested. The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a big story on a Philly mom of two who took part in the action. More papers in KansasCalifornia, New York, British Columbia, and elsewhere covered the action. 

The sit-in even broke through onto network TV. Fox News couldn't get enough of the event: Fox Business News interviewed Sierra Club Executive Director Mike Brune, Sean Hannity brought on Daryl Hannah and told her he'd pay for her bail next time (and then agreed with her that everyone wants clean air and clean water). Univision, CBS, ABC, CNN, CBC News, Democracy Now, Al Jazeera and others also covered the news on TV. 

Action on the Hill

On Thursday morning, fresh from their arrests the day before, the Sierra Club's Mike Brune and 350.org's Bill McKibben headed to Capitol Hill to join Senator Barbara Boxer and Senator Bernie Sanders in introducing a new climate bill and then rally with progressive leaders in Congress who oppose Keystone XL. 

The events got good coverage in the DC political press, with stories in Politico and the Hill. The Wall Street Journal wrote that the "climate change battle" was heating up again while Rolling Stone asked, "Is Congress finally moving on climate change?" Gannet and Reuters stories got picked up all across the country, from outlets like the Chicago Tribune to USA Today

The Big Day: "Forward on Climate"

The real deluge of press came from the big day itself: February 17th's massive "Forward on Climate" rally. The press coverage from Forward on Climate blew away any press coverage from August 2011's sit-ins that first helped turn Keystone XL into a national campaign or the November 2011 rally to circle the White House. 

TV was the real coup of the day. Between 2009 and 2011, network nightly news coverage of climate change went down 72% and it hasn't improved much since, according to Media Matters for America. But for "Forward on Climate," nearly all the networks came out. CBS News covered the "thousands marching in DC to protest Keystone XL" while NBC Nightly News ran with a headline "Rally urges action from Obama on climate change." CSPAN and MSNBC broadcasted live from the event, with Up With Chris Hayes interviewing 350.org founder Bill McKibben and Chief Jackie Thomas from the Saik'uz First Nation in Canada. The Weather Channel did some great coverage that is already up on YouTube. Univision and Telemundo also covered the rally in Spanish. 

 

Stunning: 40,000+ Rally in DC for Forward on Climate

What a day! Over 40,000 people poured into the streets of Washington, DC today to push President Obama to take our nation “Forward on Climate” and say no to the Keystone XL pipeline.

Our team here at 350.org had expected a crowd, but this was MASSIVE. Volunteers from around the country organized 130 buses to get people to the rally and it showed: there were people of all ages from Florida to Wisconsin to California here today.

Students especially showed up in force. I ran into young people from all across the country, many of whom are hard at work running fossil fuel divestment campaigns on their campuses. This is the next generation of the climate movement, just as comfortable negotiating in a board room as they are marching in the streets.

Our message for President Obama was crystal clear: time to live up to your rhetoric, take us forward on climate, and say no the Keystone XL pipeline. As former White House green jobs advisor (and movement hero) Van Jones said from the stage, “This will define your legacy, Mr. President.”

The speakers up on stage today represented the full diversity of our movement, from indigenous leaders across the United States and Canada, to clean energy investors like Tom Steyer, to environmental leaders like Mike Brune and Bill McKibben, to civil and voting rights activists like Rosario Dawson and Rev. Lennox Yearwood.

The march today looked like the movement that elected President Obama. Now, it’s time for him to join us in standing up to Big Oil and saying no to Keystone XL. Because this movement isn’t going anywhere. We’re, to borrow a phrase, fired up and ready to go. And we’re not stopping until the President takes action.  

 

#ForwardOnClimate Photos Streaming In!

It's just a little bit mindblowing to watch the photos from #ForwardOnClimate stream in from DC. Below is a slideshow of a Flickr set with some of the best:

And some great photos from the @350 Twitter Feed.

 

Amazing! 35,000+ March at Forward on Climate Rally in DC

Here's a press release from today's absolutely incredible rally in Washington, DC: 

 

“Forward on Climate” Rally: More Than 35,000 strong March on Washington for Climate Action



Washington, D.C., February 17, 2013 – Today, during President’s Day weekend, more than 35,000 people are marching to the President's doorstep to support immediate action to contain climate change. People from more than 30 states across the country whose land, homes and health is being threatened by the climate crisis, as well as students, scientists, indigenous community members and many others are participating in this largest climate rally in U.S. history.

“For 25 years our government has basically ignored the climate crisis: now people in large numbers are finally demanding they get to work. We shouldn't have to be here--science should have decided our course long ago. But it takes a movement to stand up to all that money,” said 350.org founder Bill McKibben.

Rally participants are calling on President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and put limits on dangerous carbon pollution from the nation's dirtiest power plants. Much of President Obama's legacy will rest squarely on his response, resolve, and leadership in fighting the climate crisis. Rally participants are looking for him move forward on his recent State of the Union address declaration when he said, “For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change.”

“Twenty years from now on President’s Day, people will want to know what the president did in the face of rising sea levels, record droughts and furious storms brought on by climate disruption,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club.  “President Obama holds in his hand a pen and the power to deliver on his promise of hope for our children.  Today, we are asking him to use that pen to to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and ensure that this dirty, dangerous, export pipeline will never be built.”

The Keystone XL tar sands project would pipe some of the dirtiest oil on the planet through the breadbasket of America to be shipped overseas through the Gulf of Mexico. It would be a disaster for our climate, producing tar sands crude that kicks out two or three times as much carbon pollution as producing conventional crude oil.

“The Yinka Dene Alliance of British Columbia is seeing the harm from climate change to our peoples and our waters,” said Chief Jacqueline Thomas, immediate past Chief of the Saik’uz First Nation in British Columbia and co-founder Yinka Dene Alliance (“People of the Earth”). “We see the threat of taking tar sands out of the Earth and bringing it through our territories and over our rivers. The harm being done to people in the tar sands region can no longer be Canada’s dirty secret. We don’t have the billions of dollars that industry has. But we do have  our faith that people will do the right thing to protect Mother Earth. The Forward on Climate Rally shows that we are not alone in the fight to stop tar sands expansion and tackle climate change.”

 

The Big Day is Here! Watch the live stream and send a message to DC!

The big day is here in DC -- for hours now, people have been streaming into Washington to prepare for what looks to be the largest climate rally in US history.

If you want to follow along, there will be a livestream of all the action in DC that starts at Noon Eastern (9 AM Pacific) -- just go to 350.org/ForwardOnClimateLivestream when the time comes, and press play to watch the action as it unfolds.

Also, here in DC we'll have a big screen down on the Mall today, and any photos you send with messages of support to forwardonclimatephotos@350.org during the action will be shown up on the big screen. We'll also be showing Tweets, Instagram photos or Pintrest pins tagged with #ForwardOnClimate.

I'm sure Bill McKibben will send along a full report when the rally is over, but for now just enjoy seeing this big movement move -- and follow the up-to-the minute updates by following @350 on Twitter or just look at the tweets below!