Cotati celebrates international day of climate action
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By Bonnie Petty  October 29, 2009 04:12 pm

It was only a small cluster of tents but the event was big in scope, joining with hundreds of thousands of participants in 181 countries around the world in an effort to bring attention-and action-to the climate crisis through an International Day of Climate Action.
The goal of the gathering in the Oliver’s Market parking Saturday lot was “to get that number 350 into peoples’ consciousness... and to take action,” said Ben Ford of Transition Cotati. Specifically, Ford says, organizers are hoping for “global groundswell of information to put pressure on government officials, who will be going to Copenhagen, to do something serious.”
Government leaders from around the world will be meeting for a Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December, where a new climate protocol will be discussed-and ideally-acted upon.
“The idea,” says Laurie-Ann Barbour, also a member of Transition Cotati, “is, as Bill McKibben says, ‘to get everyone singing with the same voice.’”
McKibben is the man behind 350.org, which organized the day of action and has been a major advocate for strong action in reducing the carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere. The number 350 stands for 350 parts per million (ppm) that scientists now believe we must reach to avoid the collapse of the continental ice-sheets and the subsequent rise in sea levels, which would lead to a disastrous environmental crisis.
Currently, scientists estimate that we are at about 390 ppm and to reach the goal of 350 would require a massive effort to reduce carbon emissions. “The new goal would be an 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2020,” says Barbour.
Locally, the event was organized by Transition Cotati, a group that has been working on peak oil, global warming and climate crisis issues for about two years as a part of the international Transition Movement. Their goal is to address these issues by rebuilding strong communities, localizing our lives and reducing, if not eliminating, our emissions by bringing as much of our economic and social lives back into our own communities.
But as serious as the issue is, on that sunny Saturday afternoon the mood was easy-going fun as shoppers stopped to talk about composting and worm bins, to sample Barbour’s shortbread baked in a solar oven and to sign a postcard urging government officials to act.
A kids’ tent was presided over by Sonoma State students from the Future of Energy program, which is part of the University’s Hutchins program. Children could plant seeds in cups made of newspaper, color pieces of a map of Cotati.

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