May 5, 2012, was the day to “Connect the Dots.” As 350.org explained on Saturday, “Today the world is stepping up to connect the dots between climate change and extreme weather – because climate change is too real and happening too fast to let our leaders continue to ignore it.” That was the motive. The method was to take a photo that illustrated the effect of climate change in your locale and to feature prominently a dot, so that others viewing the 1,000-plus photos on the Climate Dots website would see what havoc weather extremes–record droughts and floods, increased intensity and frequency of tornadoes and hurricanes, and rising sea levels here in the Pacific and in island nations–have already wrought.
Bill McKibben, of 350.org, which organized this, the third annual international day of action on climate change, once again draws out the significance of the mass protests in a blog post that appeared first on Tom Dispatch and was re-posted on Yes! Originally titled “Too Hot Not to Notice? A Planet Connected by Wild Weather” and in Yes! headlined “A Worldwide Effort to Make Climate Change Visible,” the essay makes not just the connection between climate change and its effects but an analogy between this causal connection and tobacco and lung cancer. There is the same denial (termed “skepticism” by the industry that stands to lose in each case–oil and coal now, the tobacco companies then) and a similar lack of in-depth coverage by the news media–until in the case of tobacco evidence was so overwhelming that the media got on board. McKibben makes it clear that despite the recent polls showing that a majority of Americans accept the reality that a warming planet is unleashing unprecedented disasters and want leaders to do something about it, a very real obstacle is the disinformation campaign emanating from the fossil-fuel corporations and the stonewalling of initiatives (such as a cap-and-trade bill) by the legislators they have bought with campaign contributions.
Therefore May 5 was not a culmination but a beginning. As McKibben writes, “It’s time for each of us to get involved in the full-on fight between misinformation and truth.” Tom Engelhardt of Tom Dispatch predicts that doing something about climate change may be a campaign issue, because people are starting to demand controls on carbon emissions (63%, according to a recent poll) and fully three-fourths of Americans support “regulating carbon dioxide as a ‘pollutant.'” When the president brings it up, you know he has read the polls. He quotes the president as saying, “I will be very clear in voicing my belief that we’re going to have to take further steps to deal with climate change in a serious way.” Engelhardt suggests that taking a strong position might help Obama get re-elected “if this summer and fall prove just as weather-freaky as our North American winter and spring have been, leaving Republican climate-change deniers and prevaricators in the dust.”
It won’t happen if we don’t keep the issue front and center. Join the movement at 350.org; there are several other projects in the works, including 350 Earth ART, which uses art to spark a global climate movement, and a campaign to end fossil fuel subsidies. A good description of 350.org: “our online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions are led from the bottom up by people in 188 countries.”