Thousands of Canadians Call for Action on Climate Change

On October 24, more than 3,000 people gathered on Parliament Hill to call for urgent action on climate change. Many of the protesters were in town for Power Shift, a conference that brought together over a thousand young people from every region of Canada.

The rally on the Hill took place as part of an International Day of Climate Action. It was one of over 5,200 events in 181 countries around the world.

In Canada, there were events from coast to coast. Over 350 people hugged the Yukon legislature in Whitehorse. Over 5,000 people gathered on the Cambie Bridge in Vancouver. Across Atlantic Canada, church bells chimed to call for climate action.

At most of these events, people carried placards and banners featuring the number 350. What’s the significance of the number 350, you may ask?

Before the industrial age, levels of carbon dioxide were around 280 parts per million. With levels of carbon dioxide increasing exponentially, we have now reached 389 parts per million.

According to a recent paper by James Hansen and nine other climate scientists, 350 parts per million is the upper safe limit for levels of carbon dioxide. They write, “If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm, but likely less than that.”

The researchers point to some problems already on the way, with current levels of carbon dioxide. Alpine glaciers are melting around the world. With the global retreat of glaciers, rivers originating in the Himalayas, Andes and Rockies will dry out during the summer and autumn, leading to water shortages for hundreds of millions of people. Sea level will rise at least several metres, as ice sheets melt in Greenland and Antarctica.

The scientists stress the urgency of stopping human-caused climate change: “We must begin to move now toward the era beyond fossil fuels. Continued growth of greenhouse gas emissions, for just another decade, practically eliminates the possibility of near-term return of atmospheric composition beneath the tipping level for catastrophic effects.”

With levels of carbon dioxide rising, let’s hope the worldwide rallies have an effect. We need less hot air, and more action from our Members of Parliament. Thousands of people have been contacting them. You can call for urgent action on climate change by signing the KYOTOplus petition and an online letter supporting the Copenhagen Climate Bill. Please contact Members of Parliament to let them know that you want Canada to do its fair share to tackle the climate crisis.


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