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What is the real culprit?

Climate Action Day exposes dangers to planet

Published Oct 30, 2009 8:22 PM

On Oct. 24, International Climate Action Day, activists in 181 countries around the world participated in over 5,200 events in an attempt to raise awareness about the threats of climate change.

In New Brighton, Australia, a huge drawing in the sand included text that could be read from the sky—“There is no planet B.” In Mongolia men on horseback posed for a picture holding up a banner about climate change. In South Africa rock climbers hung banners on the side of a cliff reading, “[President Jacob] Zuma, climate proof our food and jobs.” An action was held underwater in the Maldive Islands to draw attention to the fact that the Maldives is seriously threatened by rising sea levels in the Indian Ocean.

International Climate Action Day was organized primarily by a U.S. organization named 350. The number 350 holds significance in the struggle against global warming because 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide is the limit that scientists have identified as safe for our atmosphere. Presently the number is 387 ppm.

Despite the fact that this analysis is scientific, and potentially difficult to fully understand, 350.org’s accessible Web site has given people all over the world a number to push for and greater understanding of the climate crisis. As a result, International Climate Action Day consisted of many groups around the world holding up 350 banners and standing in formations that from an aerial view read “350.” A group in the Philippines even grew plants into the formation of 350, and in Copenhagen the 350 emblem was mowed into a meadow.

The United Nations Copenhagen Climate Conference will take place Dec. 7-18. Although President Barack Obama’s administration has said that no U.S. climate bill will be passed before the conference, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold hearings the week of Oct. 26 to discuss a climate change bill proposed by Senators Barbara Boxer and John Kerry.

Capitalism is to blame

Despite the ongoing grassroots efforts to raise awareness within the political arena, as well as with voters and consumers, people in the United States seem surprisingly unconcerned about the swift and imminent obliteration of planet Earth as a place that can sustain human life. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that only 57 percent of respondents believe there is real evidence that the world is getting warmer—down from 77 percent in 2006. The poll also reveals that just 35 percent of people in the U.S. regard global warming as a very serious problem. (people-press.org)

These alarming statistics come after years of grassroots and also mainstream efforts to get people to drive less, recycle more and bring reusable bags with them to the grocery store. Yet these efforts are not attacking the real problem. Often such “green” campaigns are run or sponsored by corporations such as Wal-Mart and Shell in an effort to implicate consumers in the destruction of our planet, while the globalized capitalist system is the real culprit.

The possibility of sustaining human, animal and plant life on this planet is only possible if this system is completely overhauled or, better yet, dismantled. Though the people of the United States are sleeping on this issue, the rest of the world is much more aware of the catastrophic effects the climate crisis will bring on all of us.

Unfortunately, reducing one’s carbon footprint by “buying green” will not save the planet. The people of the world must rise up against the corporate greed that has been killing the planet and its inhabitants for too long. Or we will all see the consequences far sooner than most of us can imagine.

The writer is an activist with the militant youth organization FIST—Fight Imperialism, Stand Together.