Northfield residents and Carleton students gathered in Ames Park in Northfield on a recent morning to mark the International Day of Climate Action, also known as 350 Day, a worldwide event to draw attention to potentially disastrous global climate change – and what steps can be taken to avert it.
The global event was organized by 350.org, an international environmental organization dedicated to reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
|Pressville.org is a journalism web site covering stories about Northfield and Rice County, Minnesota — and the ways that this region connects to the state, country and world. It is created by students at Carleton College.|
About 50 people sipped hot cider and enjoyed the music of Carleton College folk musicians at the Ames Park gathering.
Angel Debrow and Karen Olson, two of the event’s main organizers, were inspired to bring 350 Day to Northfield after attending a climate change forum in Edina this past August featuring American environmentalist and author Bill McKibben, who co-founded 350.org.
“350” derives from what some leading climate scientists say is approximately the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere – 350 parts per million.
If carbon dioxide levels are not brought down to 350 parts per million or lower, irreversible climate change will occur, according to these scientists.
A large part of 350.org’s mission is to encourage citizens around the world to put pressure on international policymakers convening in Copenhagen this December for the UN Climate Change Conference.
Together with other environmentally-conscious Northfield residents, including M.J. Cristafro and Carleton student Katie Blanchard, Debrow and Olson organized a morning of climate-oriented conversation and reflection.
As a part of the event, a photographic project organized by Blanchard displayed photographs of Carleton students, faculty and staff. Each photograph showed one person holding up a whiteboard sign on which they’d written a personal message expressing why he or she felt it was urgent to quickly reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
The photographs will be sent to the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.
Speaking in front of the crowd, Debrow urged attendees to add their voice to the public debate over climate change. She emphasized the importance of the 350 parts per million cap, and described the 350 Day events happening all over the globe, from Cairo, Egypt, to Sydney, Australia.
Besides the Ames Park event, Northfield residents marked their support of 350 Day by ringing the church bells at the First United Church of Christ 350 times this afternoon.
Even though “we live in the small town of Northfield,” Debrow said, we too can make a statement about the importance of climate change action.
“We can’t wait for the politicians,” she said, but “we can put pressure on the politicians.”
Debrow urged attendees to write a personal pledge to a carbon-reducing change they will make in their own daily lives. Pledge cards written by children, college students, and older folks alike were taped to giant orange cardboard cutouts of the number “350,” facing Highway 3 from Ames Park.
A photograph of people from the Northfield event, standing in front of the giant 350 sign, will be submitted to 350.org, where it will join similar photographs of people marking the importance of the 350 movement from all around the world.