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Bill McKibben's wrap up of the more than 4300 demonstrations for 350 ppm around the planet


The great environmental writer and founder of, Bill McKibben, is the guest blogger.

We’re sitting here in our temporary offices in lower Manhattan hunched over laptops drowning in images—15,000 photos and thousands of minutes of video have arrived from what turned out to be 5,200 rallies, protests, and demonstrations in 181 countries around the world.

It was, according to any number of journalistic accounts, “the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.” But 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.

The coverage, except for a somewhat sour piece by Andy Revkin in the NYT, was incredible. And it was also massive. We owned the top of Google News for 18 hours, and were all over the front pages of newspapers across the globe. Here’s a link that will give you the tiniest taste.

But I hope folks will go to the "">website and just spend some time going down the blog or looking at the slideshows. It will serve as a good reminder of just how many people are engaged and thinking about climate.

Clearly 350 doesn’t solve the problem. Clearly we’re not going to get the agreement our group wants out of Copenhagen. Hopefully we’ve managed to push the process at least a little ways in the direction of the science. And hopefully we’re finally beginning to build something that looks like a global movement to face the biggest global problem there’s ever been.

Enormous thanks to all who helped over the weekend, and will in the future.
– Bill McKibben

JR: The Revkin piece is here. At least it has a great final quote by NASA’s Gavin A. Schmidt: “If you ask a scientist how much more CO2 do you think we should add to the atmosphere, the answer is going to be none.” The Washington Post ran a good AP story Saturday with the website link (reprinted below) and a photo today:

Activists held events around the world Saturday to mark the number they say the world needs to reach to prevent disastrous climate change: 350.The number represents 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere that some scientists say is the safe upper limit. The atmosphere currently reaches about 390 parts per million, according to research by NASA climate scientist James Hanse cited by

Hundreds of events highlighted the number in different ways.

In what founder Bill McKibben called a global game of Scrabble, groups in Australia, Ecuador, India, the United Kingdom, the U.S. and Denmark each spelled out one of the numbers in 350. Hundreds gathered in New York City’s Times Square and watched slideshows of the other events on giant screens.

McKibben, an environmentalist and author of “The End of Nature,” said the day was unique because it emphasized the science behind a politically complicated topic.

“It was ordinary people rallying around a scientific data point,” McKibben said. “Nothing like that has ever happened before.”

In Venezuela, volunteers formed a human chain marking the number zero on the beach at Catia La Mar north of Caracas to mark the spot where they said the ocean would reach if global warming is not stopped.

McKibben said volunteers also sent in photos of separate groups forming the numbers 350 around the Dead Sea, in Jordan, Israel and Palestinian territory.

Many of the events referred to the Copenhagen conference scheduled in December that will seek to reach a new global climate change treaty to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on carbon dioxide emissions. It has been billed as a last chance to avoid the impact of catastrophic global that could be felt for generations.

McKibben said there are lessons to be learned from the Kyoto Protocol, which the U.S. did not join.

“We saw what happened,” he said. “Everybody walked away once it was done, and there was no real progress. We need to pick up the pace.”

This piece originally appeared in Climate Progress

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