When hundreds of college students and other Northland residents gather for a bike rally Saturday in Duluth, they’ll be part of a worldwide statement on climate change being made in 164 nations.

By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune October 21, 2009

When hundreds of college students and other Northland residents gather for a bike rally Saturday in Duluth, they’ll be part of a worldwide statement on climate change being made in 164 nations.

The rally is one of more than 3,890 events planned worldwide Saturday aimed at pressing world leaders to support major steps to reduce carbon emissions.

The “350” rally, which includes Duluth Mayor Don Ness, Police Chief Gordon Ramsay, and author and former U.S. Senate candidate Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, will start at 3 p.m. behind the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.

Participants are encouraged to bike to the event to avoid increasing carbon emissions.

Leaders for most of the world’s nations will meet Dec. 12 in Copenhagen to discuss a new climate treaty to help reduce carbon emissions and lower carbon levels in the Earth’s atmosphere.

A majority of scientists who study climate say that human-caused greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane are spurring a rapid and dramatic increase in global temperatures. They say that warming will affect things such as forests and crops, ocean and lake levels, wildlife, and human health. Much of the carbon comes from burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil.

Several scientists and environmental groups say even if the Copenhagen treaty is approved and a huge global effort is made to meet new carbon standards, it still won’t be enough to stop continued warming. In recent reports, scientists say carbon levels need to be reduced to no more than 350 parts per million to slow warming. Current levels already are about 385 parts per million.

Dylan Kesti, a senior at St. Scholastica majoring in global politics and communication, said the rally is an easy way for the community to get involved in a global issue that affects everyone.

“We hopped on board because this is such a simple version, such a tangible explanation of what we need to do … get down to 350. We don’t have to debate the deep science of it, so it’s easier for people to understand,” Kesti said. “It’s also a chance for us to get out of our little college groups and get into the community with this message and join with other groups in Duluth with a common goal.”

Supporters of the 350 rally also will hold a “waltz-in” dance at 4 p.m. Friday on the sidewalk in front of Duluth’s Whole Foods Co-op to raise awareness of climate-related issues.

Other events centered on climate are under way at local colleges, including a rolling 350-second student walkout held Tuesday at St. Scholastica.

Organizers promise that Saturday will be one of the largest days of global political action ever. Climbers on Mt. Everest will raise a “350” banner, and the president of the Maldive Islands, a nation threatened by rising sea levels, will don scuba gear and lead 350 of his countrymen in an underwater demonstration. In Sydney, Australia, 10,000 people will form themselves into a “3,” while people in London will create a “5” and cyclists in Copenhagen will ride in a “0” pattern.

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