"How well we control our numbers, our appetites, and the efficiency with which we satisfy those appetites will ordain just how desperate the situation becomes. They are the battles for our time, as morally compulsory as the battles for civil rights or against totalitarianism."
- Bill McKibben, The End of Nature
The group gathered at the northern entrance of Washington Square Park last Friday evening was smaller than I'd anticipated. We were assembled for a candle vigil in conjunction with the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, and 350.org, environmental activist Bill McKibben's project to increase global awareness of the environmental (and status quo) threats posed by the exacerbation of climate change due to anthropogenic influence.
The New York City vigil was one of hundreds of similar events happening around the world on December 11th. Given the date, the vigil was also a satisfying way to bring in Hanukkah, a holiday that, despite its complicated history, is essentially about standing up for the causes that you feel most strongly about, even in the face of overwhelming odds. Small though our Washington Square Park group may have been, then, I was upbeat and hopeful.
Tomorrow (Thursday, December 17th), there is more cause for hope. I'll be one of thousands (hopefully one of many thousands) of true cosmopolitans forgoing food as part of the Global Climate Justice Fast. Bill McKibben's organization is trying to spread the word from Copenhagen, but the easiest place to sign up is at the Climate Justice Fast website. The official statement of the fast participants reads:
"We will fast voluntarily, for one day on Thursday, in solidarity with the millions who have and could lose their lives to preventable and involuntary hunger, disease and conflict resulting from climate change.I urge HH readers to take action this season. The specifics of your engagement matters less than its spirit. As I wrote not long ago,
We call on world leaders for a real climate deal now--a deal grounded in science and strong enough to get us back to 350 [parts per million]."
"If global warming isn't appealing to your still, small voice, get involved with political activism, volunteer at your local homeless shelter, pledge financial support to non-profit activist organizations working for causes that you feel strongly about; it doesn't matter what you do, but it does matter that you do something. Turn off the television, put down the tabloid. I beg this of you."If you have the energy and spirit to take action in multiple ways, so much the better, but every little bit helps. We're all in this marvelous mess together.