Last weekend, diverse groups of people from all across the globe stood together with a united vision of leaving our children a quality of life equal to what many of us have been taking for granted in our own lives. It was a historic weekend of candlelight vigils and bells tolling in churches.
Somewhere around 3,000 cities and towns in all parts of the world held events proclaiming their support for a Copenhagen agreement that targets an upper limit of 350 parts per million of atmospheric CO2. Their thoughts were expressed by 350.org’s Bill McKibben: “The world can’t afford just any climate deal—we need a real deal that is fair enough to protect those bearing the brunt of climate impacts, is legally binding and enforceable, and is ambitious enough to get the world back on a path to 350.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, and other faith leaders joined together for an interfaith celebration at which they rang the bells of Copenhagen’s Lutheran Cathedral 350 times. Churches in the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden and the U.S. also participated in the bell ringing.
Here in South Carolina, three cities joined their brothers and sisters throughout the world in making their voices heard. I attended a candlelight vigil held on the campus of Coastal Carolina University (CCU) in Conway, South Carolina. Organized by the Grand Strand Sustainability Network and the Coastal Carolina University Sustainability Initiative, the event brought together CCU students, area environmentalists, and representatives of the Five Rivers Friends Quaker Meeting and the Wellness Council for South Carolina. The involvement of such diverse groups highlights the understanding that the health of the planet affects all of us. Climate change is more than an environmental cause. In the words of Al Gore, it is “ultimately a moral and spiritual issue.” We are all dependent on the health of our planet and finding solutions requires us to build bridges that span the diverse perspectives through which we view our goals and values.
For information and photos of other events throughout the world, visit 350.org.