Yesterday and today are hosting some of the most dramatic outpouring of citizen support for international climate action that the planet has ever seen.
In Copenhagen, I watched the city streets fill with light as almost 100,000 people marched for a vigil surrounding the Bella Center, where the international climate talks are being held here.
The march and vigil capped off a a globe spanning day of over 3,000 marches, rallies, and vigils. On the 12th day of the 12th month, at the halfway point of the Copenhagen climate talks, the sun rose on rallies of tens of thousands of people in Australia and has been setting on thousands of vigils from Myanmar to the Arctic.
As the diverse crowd of 100,000 marchers held candles to represent the hopes of the more than 11 million who has called for global leadership last week, Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu led a vigil inside. A vigil to inspire world leaders to remember the generations that will inherit a world forever shaped by the consequences of climate change.
After the Vigil, leaders of the global climate movement, like Kumi Naidoo, a former leader of the anti-apartheid movement and chair of the TckTckTck campaign, and Deepa Gupta, the director of the indian youth climate network, told the crowd about the moral imperative to act now as well as the opportunity we have to build a better, more prosperous world.
Today, faith communities from around the world are acting on the day most commonly marked for display of prayer and reflection. In the Netherlands, hundreds of churches are ringing their bells 350 times to signify 350 ppm of carbon dioxide, the safe upper limit according to the latest science. In Japan, citizens form the shape of a 350 with traditional Aomori lanterns at the Nishibetsuin Buddhist temple in Hokkaido.
Along with galvanizing a grassroots movement around the world, the 350 ppm target has been endorsed by a number of influential religious leaders such as Nobel Peace Prize Winner Desmond Tutu, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who wrote in an open letter to over 300 million Orthodox Christians, "350 is repentance in action."
What have we not seen? We haven’t really seen recognition from either the press or world leaders that this outpouring of positive energy or support from environmental, faith, or civil rights leaders was worthy of attention.
Instead, we have seen an intense focus by most traditional media on the small group of people that were arrested, or other fringe groups that were trying to hijack the message of this incredible outpouring of citizen support for a real deal in Copenhagen.
Jonathan Hiskes at Grist Magazine reported on how large the divide between the reality of a hopeful, inspirational march capping off a truly global day of action and headlines by most media networks.
A few of the headlines were:
CNN: "Arrests at climate conference"
The New York Times: "Hundreds of Protesters Arrested at Climate Talks."
Hiskes summarized with, "The headlines simply missed the reality of most people’s experience at the rally." In fact, the New York Times hit the trifecta, focusing their coverage on small groups of radical anarchists, vegans, and even prominently quoted a climate denier, over the representatives of civil society, the organizers of the 3,000 vigils and citizen signing events around the world, and the reality of over 99% of the marches.
Communities like DailyKos are so important in efforts like these, when major international media outlets cover people powered movements in ways to downplay their effectiveness or power.
Solving climate change is a fundamentally progressive effort, by supporting clean energy development over fossil fuel interests like Exxon-Mobil, creating green jobs over exporting money for oil or gas abroad, and saving billions in health care costs from cleaning up our water and air.
As the week goes on and President Obama meets with 110 world leaders this week, lets hope that communities like this one take the lead and cover what action leaders are really taking and on the reality of the leadership that civil society groups and community leaders are demonstrating worldwide.