Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Pedaling the Planet's Future

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Environment Hamilton's Don McLean (pictured) speaks at the Pedal for the Planet event today outside City Hall in Burlington, Ontario. He spoke of the need for action to reduce the effects of climate change and referred to actions planned in Hamilton this coming October 24, 2009, part of the 350.org climate movement. The 350 web site spells out their cause this way:

A year ago, our greatest climatologist—NASA’s James Hansen—and his team produced a landmark series of studies. They showed that if we let the amount of carbon in the atmosphere top 350 parts per million, we can’t have a planet “similar to the one on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted.”

The bad news is we’re already past that number—we’re at 390 parts per million, which is why the Arctic is melting, why drought is spreading across the planet, why people are already dying from diseases like dengue fever and malaria occurring in places where they’ve never been seen before.
Meanwhile, the event hosts, who happen to be pedaling their bicycles to Ottawa from myriad starting points in Canada, are taking a message of their own to Canadian politicians.

A new international climate change treaty will be signed next December and the final negotiations are happening now. But Canada is blocking progress. Pedal for the Planet is a chance for Ontarians to send a clear message to Ottawa: we want our country to make us proud and start acting like a leader in global efforts to confront climate change. Cyclists from across the country will converge on Parliament Hill on September 15th.

Pedal for the Planet is an initiative of KYOTOplus, a national, non-partisan, petition-centred campaign for urgent federal government action on climate change that is supported by more than 70 health, environment, labour, youth, women, development, peace and social justice organizations.

Pedal for the Planet riders will hit cities across southern Ontario over the next two weeks, visiting Members of Parliament to ask them to sign the KYOTOplus pledge. “We’re hoping to get as many signatories as possible,” says Cane. “Canada is one of the last industrialized countries opposed to targets for deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. This is an opportunity for everyone to join together to call for federal government action on climate change.”

So, there are obviously things you can do to make a difference, like using alternatives to private automobiles such as car-pooling, transit, cycling, and walking; but some, like these groups, are doing this and more: they are not letting politicians off the hook for fiddling while the planet burns.

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