Good News: 350.org

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

The good news is that no one has to save the world.

The bad news is that we all have to save the world.

The good news is that you are not personally responsible for all of the world’s problems.

The bad news is that you are personally responsible for part of all of the world’s problems.

The good news is that you are only responsible for fixing the part of all of the world’s problems that you are personally responsible for.

The bad news is that it’s pretty complicated.

The good news–and the point of this meandering introduction–is that there are already so many people working way over their personal share on fixing the world’s problems that, in most cases, all you have to do is find out about them and sign on to efforts already underway.

The bad news is, you may have no idea how to do this. But wait! That’s where I come in. As a bit of continuing Good News on Mondays, I’ll look at groups, people, organizations, books and Big Ideas about how to fix the various ecological (and, where they intersect, social) messes we’ve gotten ourselves into. (Well done, Humanity! You are on your way to going out with a bang, not a whimper.)

Much like you need to provide yourself and your offspring with shelter but not build the house yourself, and much like you need to provide for your children’s education without teaching them everything yourself, you do need to help provide your kids with a planet they can eventually reproduce on without single-handedly solving the climate, deforestation, over-fishing and pollution crises yourself. All you need to do is extend yourself a bit beyond that thick Western individualist hide, find a smidgen of community, and be a joiner for once.

This week I’ll introduce you to 350.org, an online effort cofounded by Bill McKibben to organize global climate change actions on October 24, 2009, centred around the need to reduce carbon dioxide atmosphere concentrations to 350 parts per million (we are, currently, around 390). Why 350? Because this has been identified as the safe maximum atmospheric carbon level to avoid catastrophic climate change. (And we overshot it already. Oops.)

At the end of 2009, world leaders will gather in Copenhagen to hammer out a new post-Kyoto climate change framework; 350.org wants to get as many people as possible in as many countries as possible to send a strong message to those leaders that we want them to get off their asses, stop posturing and pointing fingers, and negotiate an effective climate treaty.

There is a searchable map of existing, registered 350.org actions all over the world. If there’s nothing in your neighbourhood right now, you have two choices: 1. register at the site, and keep checking back to see if/when someone starts something, or 2. come up with an idea and register that. 350.org will then set you up with posters, press releases, and organizational tools to make your event a success. The photo gallery and the ideas/actions inspiration page both have some very cool ideas; I love the buried cars.

Or 3., you can send them a small donation. They’re saving your planet for you and your kids. The least you can do is send them $35. Right?

There is a single, unspecified action registered in Toronto itself, as well as a couple in Guelph, Kitchener and Mississauga, but so far our section of the map is looking pretty sparse. If anyone nearby is reading this and would like to organize something, leave a comment and I’ll get in touch. Three million people can surely do better. (Children’s art festival in a park? Community planting of 350 trees? 350 bike riders? Picnics? Plays? Another CN Tower climb?)

What can or would you do for a couple of hours on a Saturday in October to let world leaders know that you want them to commit to meaningful action on climate change?

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