World wakes up to impacts of climate change
04 May 2012
A global day of action will see people ‘connecting the dots’ between extreme weather and climate change
People in more than 100 countries across the world will tomorrow take part in the first ever Climate Impacts Day, a global day of action to highlight links between localised extreme weather and long-term climate change.
Campaign group 350.org have instigated the day of action on 5 May 2012 as part of its Connect the Dots campaign, which aims to help people express recognition that that climate change is now impacting their lives directly.
“People everywhere are saying the same thing: our tragedy is not some isolated trauma, it’s part of a pattern,” says 350.org founder Bill McKibben.
The past year has seen extreme flooding in Bangkok, drought continuing in the Horn of Africa and typhoons and hurricanes hitting vulnerable communities in places like the Philippines.
According to Dr. Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in the US, although no single weather event can be attributed to climate change or global warming on their own, climate change does contribute to extreme weather. “All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be,” he wrote in research published in November 2011.
Distinct trends are beginning to occur, said 350.org, which show an increased frequency and severity of weather events as well as records being set in nearly every kind of extreme weather including high rainfall, high temperatures and deeper droughts. Just this March, a heat wave hit the US that broke 15,000 records.
Despite this, global media reporting of climate change is declining. According to media monitoring website dailyclimate.org, coverage in 2011 dropped roughly 20% from 2010 levels and nearly 42% from 2009’s peak.
“If we’re going to tell this story — and it’s the most important story of our time — we’re going to have to tell it ourselves,” said Bill McKibben.
The first of the nearly 1,000 actions occurring throughout 5 May will be in the Marshall Islands where campaigners will greet the sunrise with large dots held to the sky. In Ontario people will use umbrellas to form a dot highlighting the 17 extreme rainstorms in eight years that have caused flooding in the city. In Cartagena, Colombia, volunteers will create a dot using litter collected along a canal that is increasingly clogged and flooded due to heavier rains.
As well as reflecting on the devastation caused by extreme weather, many groups will use the day to look at potential solutions. In Lund, Sweden, students will collect old bicycles to form a dot before shipping them to South Africa to be re-used, and at an event in Costa Rica, attendees will plan 350 ways to mitigate climate change effects.
350.org will collect photos and videos from the events to spread across social media sites as well as pushing the mainstream news to take notice. Jamie Henn, 350.org communications director said: “If we’re successful, Saturday will be another big step forward in waking the world up to the urgent threat of the climate crisis.”
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