10/22/2009 - Asheville to mark climate action day with Saturday Event
On Oct. 24, churches around the world will ring their bells 350 times. Mountain climbers will wave banners depicting the number 350 on the worlds highest peaks. Therell be rallies in cities large and small, with participants chanting 350 in every language.
And in downtown Asheville, citizens of all ages will join in the same worldwide movement to focus attention on the number 350. Its all part of the International Day of Climate Action, the most widespread day of grassroots environmental action in the planets history. Covering almost every country on earth, the 350 project is about citizens joining together to urge world leaders to take bold and immediate steps to address climate change and reduce carbon emissions.
The efforts are aimed at the number 350 because scientists say that 350 parts per million (ppm) is the most carbon dioxide we can safely have in the atmosphere. The current CO2 concentration is approaching 390 ppm.
The Asheville 350 gathering, 2 4 p.m., in the new park in front of Asheville City Hall, will be one of nearly 4,300 simultaneous events in 170 countries taking place on Oct. 24. The family-friendly afternoon will include speakers and activities for children and adults, and a group photo that will depict the number 350, to be taken at 3:50 p.m. [See details below.]
That photo and thousands from around the world will be posted on the international 350.org Web site and displayed on the 30-foot tall screens on Times Square in the heart of New York City. Then, on the Monday after Oct. 24, the 350.org team will visit United Nations headquarters to hand-deliver the photos as something of a visual petition to diplomats and delegates the world over.
These global actions come six weeks before the worlds nations convene in Copenhagen for the UN Climate Change Conference to draw up a new climate treaty. Eighty-nine countries have already endorsed the 350 target, as have the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri; the worlds foremost climate economist, Sir Nicholas Stern; and Nobel prize-winner Al Gore.
Among those attending the conference in Denmark will be 22-year-old Ellie Johnston, a UNC Asheville student and delegate to the Copenhagen meeting through the organization SustainUS. Johnston will speak at the Asheville 350 gathering on Oct. 24, alongside Mayor Terry Bellamy and one of the areas most dynamic speakers on climate issues, Andrew Jones.
A senior biology major, Johnston is active with Southern Energy Network, an organization that works to build and facilitate an inclusive student- and youth-led movement in the Southeast promoting a clean, just, safe and sustainable energy future. Her activities at UNC Asheville have included co-chairing Active Students for a Healthy Environment and serving as the universitys 2008-2009 student government executive of sustainability.
Jones is program director of the Sustainability Institute, a nonprofit organization founded in 1996 that applies systems thinking, system dynamics modeling, and organizational learning to economic, environmental and social challenges. Working out of the Institutes southeast office in Asheville, Jones contributes to breakthroughs in climate change strategy internationally and within the U.S.
The Asheville gathering is sponsored by the grassroots environmental organization, Western North Carolina Alliance. It is among several local activities so far, more than any other community in North Carolina associated with the international 350 project. Others in the area include the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival, Oct. 23 at UNC Asheville, a low-income household weatherization service project on Oct. 24, organized by North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light and involving numerous organizations, and a performance by Playback Theatre, Our Dance with Sustainability, on the evening of Oct. 24 at AB Tech.
Asheville 350 is organized by a steering committee co-chaired by volunteers Tracy Kunkler and Jim Barton. Kunkler, of West Asheville, is director of grant writing and communications for Sims and Steele Consulting and a member of Western North Carolina Alliance. Her background includes positions with the Region A Partnership for Children and Land-of-Sky Regional Council. As the mother of a 10-year-old son, for Kunkler, the need for climate action is particularly compelling.
In the event of inclement weather, the event will take place downstairs in Pack Place.
For more information on Asheville 350, visit www.asheville350.org. For more on the international efforts, visit www.350.org. That site also features fact sheets on the science behind 350, a list of actions taking place worldwide, and a 90-second video, Because the World Needs To Know, that succinctly explains the problems and solutions addressed through the 350 movement.
Details about Asheville 350 on Oct. 24 in front of Asheville City Hall
Inclement weather location: Downstairs Pack Place
2 3 p.m. Games and activities
Hands-on educational games and activities on climate change and saving energy
For children and adults
3 3:30 p.m. Speakers include:
Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy
Andrew Jones, Program Director for the Sustainability Institute
Ellie Johnston, UNC Asheville student going to Copenhagen.
3:30 3:50 p.m. Photo:
Assemble for 350 group photo to be displayed in Times Square and then sent to world leaders convening in Copenhagen for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December.