350: Day of Action

Saturday was the global day of action for the 350 movement, which aims to pressure decision-makers at Copenhagen to agree on a limit for atmospheric carbon (350 parts per million – we are currently at around 390).
It was a big day, globally. The front of 350.org is cycling through images from all around the world of citizen-initiated actions, often from places that seem wildly distant to me – three mongolian guys on horseback holding up a banner, for instance. The 350 blog featured a lot of photos with short explanations as they came in from around the world across the day.
Movement originator Bill McKibben guest-blogged over at Climate Progress, pointing out “here’s the thing that impresses us. There wasn’t a rock star or a movie star or a charismatic politician in sight. It was ordinary citizens and scientists coming together around a scientific data point.” (emphasis in original)
350 was a big thing in NZ, and particularly in Wellington. Building on Bill’s local appearance (which I blogged about here) and driven by a group of activist youth who sprung out of the local university environmental group, we had a full day of local events including the event that launched the day globally, a sunrise celebration/demonstration on Brooklyn Hill at the wind turbine (picture above). I made it along to the tail end of the public event, lots of people dancing and signing petitions and generally showing up and being counted. It was pretty neat.
Just around the corner was a big display of cars, all parked up outside our national museum, with a lot of people checking them out. Some motorsport club, clearly. As I walked past them on my way to the 350 events, I couldn’t help thinking that these guys were part of the problem. But I caught myself – because no, really, they’re not. They are the people who need to become allies in working to resolve climate change. The real sign of the opposition that was set against the local events was the stock ticker on the building alongside, remorselessly sliding gains and losses and signifying the restricted valuation system that constrains decision-making around the world. I really wanted the thing to blow a fuse for the day. That woulda been cool.

4 thoughts on “350: Day of Action”

  1. I’ve never understood the purpose of the waterfront stock ticker, and to be honest, have always considered it a bit of a display of corporate wankery. And like the stock updates on the nightly TV news, surely those who it is truly critical to will get that information from better and more definitive sources.
    They should run jokes on it, or better yet, serialised novellas

  2. The stock ticker is only there because the stock exchange is in that building. It actually breaks down all the time, so I guess it was just unlucky that it didn’t on Saturday.

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