PLATTSBURGH - Fifty-two-hundred rallies took place in 181 countries last October to "inspire the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis." On Sunday, Oct. 10, also known as 10/10/10, environmentalist Bill McKibben hopes the world will continue to meet the challenge.
McKibben, who created 350.org, visited the State University of New York at Plattsburgh Sept. 14 to lecture to a packed house the importance of working to change legislation that will hopefully save the planet.
350.org is an international campaign working to "unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis." In other words, scientists believe the safe limit of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 350 parts per million. The figure is currently at 392.
During his lecture, McKibben explained a paper came out from NASA scientist James Hansen and his team which explained the idea of 350.
"'For the first time,' they said, 'We have enough data to put a real numerical value on our peril.' They said, 'If any amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeded 350 parts per million was not compatible with the planet on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapt,'" McKibben paraphrased. "It's not some problem for the future, it's happening right now. We are too high and that's why the Arctic is melting and Russia is catching on fire and Pakistan is drowning. There is too much carbon in the atmosphere."
The current carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has already increased the earth's temperature by one degree from overconsumption of coal, gas and oil, leading to the melting of the arctic.
"The temperature, in the course of this century, will rise something on the border of five or six degrees," said McKibben. "If one degree is enough to melt the Arctic, we would be wise not to find out what five or six degrees will do."
Working with six students from Middlebury College, McKibben explained during his lecture they worked with people all around the world to help get rallies to take place, in an effort to create political change.
According to 350.org, CNN called it "The most widespread day of political action in the planet's history."
Now, the creators of 350.org are taking this year to encourage people to "get to work."
On 10/10/10 McKibben said, "We're we're holding not a global political rally like last year, but a global work party, we're calling it. All around the world people will be doing interesting things - putting up solar panels, digging community gardens, harvesting community gardens, laying down bike paths."
McKibben hopes at the end of the day people will then contact their political leaders and urge them to "hammer out some legislation."
"It's important to do it in October and it will be important to do it for the next few years ... to see if we can build a movement big enough, angry enough sometimes, urgent enough, passionate enough, beautiful enough to wield some real power," he said.
However, McKibben admitted it's possible there is nothing that can be done to make the change.
"There are scientists who think that we have waited too long to begin this task," he said. "Clearly we've raised the temperature of the earth one degree and there's another degree in the pipeline that we no longer can do much about with the carbon already emitted. But, there's a big difference between two degrees and six degrees and that's the question we face, whether it will be a difficult century, or an impossible one."