In advance of world leaders' December meeting in Copenhagen for a new climate treaty, Palm Beach County residents are heading to Atlantic Dunes Beach Park, where on Saturday October 24, they'll participate in a demonstration that's gone global.
That day marks the International Day of Climate Action, in which activists in more than 150 countries will highlight the consequences of increasing CO2 emissions and the dire need for caps on greenhouse gas.
"World leaders need to do the right thing for our planet, not the right thing for politics," says Bobette Wolesensky, a Greenpeace lead activist and Palm Beach Community College professor.
Sierra Club and MoveOn.org are sending committed members from as far away as Winterhaven.
The Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition, which is collaborating with Greenpeace on the effort, asks that their veggie-oil-fueling supporters carpool to the hourlong rally by 3 p.m. After the jump, let's consider the stakes in this battle.
Go-greeners should arrive equipped with a picture, object, drawing, or poster that depicts the hope (think butterflies, fairy dust, and wind turbines) or shame (darkness, doom, and dying polar bears) of climate change. Participants will stand shoulder to shoulder, forming a wall of "hope and shame" for 350 seconds.
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First, 350 is an important number. It's what scientists say is the safe limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. And that's pushing it. Right now, we're at 390 ppm (parts per million). That's why droughts are spreading, ice is melting, and trees are dying. It's up to the public and policymakers to get that number down.
Second, I know you've heard of six degrees of separation, but what about two? If we don't get our carbon number down, our planet's temperature will increase two degrees Celsius by midcentury. Any higher than that spells disaster for future generations, as Earth tries to rid itself of toxins, setting off rapid temp increases humans can't survive.
Florida will take a big hit. Sea levels will rise 11 inches by 2025, 23 by 2050, and 45 by 2100, submerging $130 billion worth of real estate. One in ten Floridians will be out of a home. Marine life, along with our beautiful beaches and way of life, will be destroyed. And freshwater supplies -- which we need to survive -- will be severely compromised.