Political Edge

Saturday 24th October saw 350.org host a day of organised protest across the world aimed at halting and reversing the amount of CO2 in the worlds atmosphere. York held ‘Make the Wave for Climate Justice’, an event that saw people of all ages hold hands round the Minster whilst performing a Mexican wave.

Approximately 400 people turned out to hear speakers such as John Grant, a senior lecturer at Hallam University and an expert on Sustainability, and Rashmi Mistry, from CAFOD (Catholic Agency for Overseas Development), give their opinions on ways to help reduce the damaging effects of climate change as well as adding their voice to the growing campaign for climate justice. People from all over the north of England travelled to York, bringing posters, whistles and wearing blue, to add as much noise to this historic day as possible.

Shirley Matsfield, from Scarborough, aged 68, said ‘This event really shows how people can get together to try and fight for something they believe in. There is a great atmosphere here today, I think it’s partly to do with it being part of a global protest. I just hope we can change something by being here’. The protest was peaceful but energetic, and the people involved were just as interested in teaching the people of York about the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere as in trying to gain government attention.

The purpose of the wave around the Minster, as well as all the other events around the world, was to raise the awareness of the number 350, which scientists believe is the safe upper limit, in parts per million, of CO2 in our atmosphere. Up until the industrial revolution, the levels were around 275 ppm, however today the levels of CO2 are as high as 390ppm, and scientists suggest that if this stays at this level, or continues to rise in the current way, we are at risk of causing irreversible damage to the world, including the melting of both the Greenland ice sheets and the ice in the Arctic, both of which would have profound effects around the world.

The protests were designed to influence delegates from non-governmental organisations who will make up the members of a conference to be held in Copenhagen in December of this year, in which it is hoped they will come to finalise a new international climate change agreement.

Other events around the world included ‘The Big Picture Event’ which involved different cities, including London, Sydney and Washington DC, getting hundreds of people to form the largest numbers possible, and taking an aerial photo of these before putting photo’s from different cities together to show the international co-operation needed to help halt and reverse climate change. This was in addition to hundreds of other events, of all sizes, all over the country and the world.

For now, all the campaigners, and indeed the world, can do is wait and see whether this global day of events was enough to influence Copenhagen to produce a historic climate change agreement.

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