The College will join forces with veterans, public officials and community members tomorrow in "350", an international climate change campaign. Together, they will celebrate the International Day of Climate Action.
The goal of the event "here on campus is to raise awareness about the climate change issue and about the science behind climate change," said Sustainability Coordinator Keisha Payson.
"350" was initiated by Scholar-in-Residence in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College Bill McKibben in an effort to raise awareness of the acceptable parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. According to 350.org, 350 ppm is the "safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere."
According to the campaign's Web site, human and natural disasters can result if atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide remain above 350 ppm. Currently, the concentration is 390 ppm.
We want "to send a message to policy makers that we want green energy and strong climate energy legislation soon," said President of Green Global Initiatives Brooks Winner '10.
This campaign and event is "really important, especially given the College's mission to become carbon neutral signed on in 2007," said Winner.
The Brunswick community is involved in the event as well. Three churches, First Parish, St. Paul's and Unitarian Universalist, will ring their bells 35 times tomorrow to show support for the "350" campaign.
A variety of guests will attend the event, including current Governor John Baldacci, former Governor Angus King, Congressman Mike Michaud and State Representative and Bowdoin alum Alex Cornell du Houx '06.
Students, faculty, staff and visitors will assemble in the Quad to form the number 350. A picture will be taken from atop Hubbard Hall by Payson.
"We are using it as evidence for policy makers," said Co-Head of the Bowdoin Evergreens Rachel Munzig '10. "This will make the Guinness Book of World Records."
Almost every country on Earth will take a picture of "bodied "350"" on October 24, National United Nations Day. Those pictures will be displayed on the "350" Web site and projected in Times Square in New York as well as the United Nations headquarters.
"One of the amazing things about the size of the "350" event is that it's going to be pretty hard for people to ignore," said Winner.
Co-Head of Bowdoin Evergreens Abriel Ferreira believes that climate change will be the "next big thing" after health care in Congress.
Tomorrow's agenda also includes Operation Free, a coalition of veterans' organizations committed to climate change.
The coalition came "together because we believe climate change is a serious thread to our national security," said Houx, who spent seven months of his college career deployed to Fallujah, Iraq. He now works for the Truman National Security Project, and is leading the bus tour.
Houx and other veterans have been on a 22-state bus tour that started on October 12 in Montana and will end tomorrow in Brunswick, Maine, with Bowdoin as their last stop.
"Our national security agencies are leading in this issue; we want to see Congress lead as well, and to ensure that we take control of our energy future for the security of the United States."
In December, government representatives from 170 countries will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark for a Climate Conference to address climate change to "keep the process on the line" because in 2012, the Kyoto Protocol "to prevent climate changes and global warming" will run out, according to its Web site.
"The goal is to create a huge media storm to put a lot of pressure on leaders going there," said Ferreira. "Meaningful change has to happen on a large level."
"I'm hopeful," said Munzig. "I think it's got a lot easier now that climate change and sustainability initiatives have become 'trendy' in the last 10 years."
Munzig said, "this is something that will take less than an hour out of your weekend and have a really incredible impact."
It's "something we can do for our mascot, the polar bear," said Payson.