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Sorry, You Gotta Show Up

On October 24, my kids Duncan and Sabrina, and my wife, Elle, and I will together march in our first-ever global-warming, er, “action.”

The occasion is Bridge to a Cool Planet, which will likely be British Columbia’s largest event marking the International Day of Climate Action. Expect drummers, people dressed up in polar bear costumes, dudes on stilts and unicycles, and lots of off-key improvised call-and-response singing and chanting.

It’s the kind of gaggle-of-people-holding-signs event that, once upon a time, I would have driven on past without even blinking. But this time, I’ll be on the other side of the windshield. And you should be, too.

Here are five reasons why you should circle October 24 on your calendar—no matter where you live—and plan to join all the cool kids who will be calling for their leaders to finally get with the program.

1. People In the Streets Matter Go ahead and update your status line or Twitter icon, but do so knowing that it’s not enough. The hardest battles for change—think Civil Rights, suffrage, the Berlin Wall—weren’t won with “twibbons” and “share” buttons. They were won when people filled the streets and said loudly enough that “things have to change.” Sign petitions, sure, but the truth is to really be counted, you gotta show up.

2. This is the Big One. Two months after this event, the leaders of the free world will gather in Copenhagen to try and hammer out a new agreement to reduce the carbon emissions that cause global warming. The meeting represents our best and likely last chance to reverse the most dangerous impacts of climate change and unleash the green economy. If Copenhagen flops, then it’s time to start figuring out how to grapple with a truly unprecedented public-health and global-security crisis. That won’t happen if you tell your government you want action. And the best way to do that is to make some noise.

3. Something For Everyone Maybe your passion is human rights, or jobs, or public health, or wilderness, or world hunger, or childrens’ advocacy, or species-at-risk. Hell, even if you care about animal cruelty and nothing else—climate change will massively impact your world and the all people and things that matter to you. It is a total across-the-board game-changer. If you do nothing else this year, this is the day to stand up and make some noise. Really.

4. Green Shopping Isn’t Enough The science now tells us that we’re way past the point where reusable cloth shopping bags and chemical-free dryer sheets are going to turn this around. It’s fine to make more responsible choices at the checkout counter, but we will only solve the climate crisis if we change our laws. And that will only happen if we tell our leaders that we want them to. And the best way to do that is to stand up on October 24.

5. It’s Going to Feel Good These are hard times, my friend, and October 24 will give me—and you—a badly needed shot in the arm. I often feel depressed and hopeless about the way things are headed, but I know this day is going to charge me up and inspire me to do more, expect more, and demand more. It’s so easy to be cynical and say “we have more pressing things to worry about,” or “my voice doesn’t mean a whit in the grand scheme of things.” The truth it, it does, so long as you use it. That’s democracy, my friend. And let me assure you, nothing feels better.

So here’s the “call to action” part: Open your calendar app—wake up your iPhone or BlackBerry, whatever—and highlight October 24. Got hockey practice that day? Skip it. Got relatives coming into town? Bring ‘em. You can find an event happening near you that day right here, at the 350.org site. Book it, and go. And I’ll see you there.

Go to www.350.org to see a list of October 24th events in BC communities and around the world.

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