Climate advocacy group 350.org is planning nearly 1,000 events in over 100 countries on May 5th to help people “connect the dots” between extreme weather and climate change on the first ever Climate Impacts Day.
The group, named for 350 parts-per-million (the level of atmospheric carbon scientists say we must achieve in order to stave off the worst effects of climate change), is aiming to give people an opportunity to highlight the effects of global warming on their local communities.
Firefighters in New Mexico plan to highlight forests burned in recent wildfires, while climbers will hang banners on melting glaciers in the Alps, Andes, and Sierras, and Brazilians will show where mudslides from heavier-than-usual rains destroyed neighborhoods.
“We just celebrated Earth Day. May 5 is more like Broken Earth Day, a worldwide witness to the destruction global warming is already causing,” said Bill McKibben, 350.org founder. “People everywhere are saying the same thing: our tragedy is not some isolated trauma, it’s part of a pattern.”
America set a record for most billion-dollar weather disasters in 2011, with 12 events, and the March 2012 heat wave broke over 15,000 temperature records.
A recent poll from Yale University found 82 percent of Americans say they have personally experienced extreme weather in the past year, and 35 percent say they were personally harmed by extreme weather in the past year.
The same poll also showed large majorities believe global warming made high-profile extreme weather events worse, including the warm 2011-2012 winter (72%), 2011 summer heat extremes (70%), 2011 Midwest droughts (69%), and 2010/2011 record snowfall (61%).
Ironically, the Yale poll was released one day after a Media Matters study that found network broadcast media coverage of climate change has fallen more than 70 percent since 2009. Pew Research’s 2012 State of the News Media report found four times as many Americans watched network evening newscasts than cable news.
Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy public relations company based in Washington, D.C.