Thousands rallied on Sunday in what organizers are calling the single largest day of action yet in the global climate change fight—and several documented the day in 140 characters or less.
Social media platform Twitter erupted with tweets of flickr photo links and commentary as more than 7,300 events took place in 188 countries in support of the “10/10/10 Global Work Party.” The self-praising tweets came mainly from participants and organizers expressing awe.
“Heard in the office — ‘We’re getting a lot of photos from Vermont and Azerbaijan right now,'” tweeted Jeremy Osborn, organizer and co-founder of 350.org, the group behind the Oct. 10 event.
“#101010 almost over, & photos hitting inbox at rate of 7 events/min — Hard to keep up w/ the awesomeness of mvmnt for #350ppm,” tweeted Jon Warnow with 350.org, who described himself as a “climate nerdpunk” and “millennial rabblerouser.”
The 350.org campaign was founded in 2008 by environmentalist Bill McKibben to draw attention to 350 parts per million (ppm), the maximum safe allowance of CO2 in the atmosphere before irreversible climate changes occur, according to many scientists. Estimates from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration put the world at about 390 ppm today.
A “Twitter tour” of 10/10/10 turns up links to photos of Bangladeshi youth with carbon-reduction demands markered across their bare chests (right); Buddhist nuns in Dharamsala, India, praying behind a 350 sign; and a 7,000-strong march through the streets of Istanbul, Turkey (above).
“Istanbul is kicking #101010 butt,” tweeted Phil Aroneanu, a youth program director at 350.org.
In Afghanistan, men were photographed planting trees in the Kabul valley dressed in 350 shirts. “Not what afghanistan is supposed to look like,” tweeted McKibben.
In China, 30,000 students “raced” to collect trash, according to staccato tweets, while in Moscow, Greenpeace Russia organized hundreds to gather three tons of acorns to replant trees in forests destroyed by recent fires.
Paris saw thousands assemble at a 10/10/10 concert. “Incredible! There are 10,000 ppl at concert and rally in #paris right this very second,” tweeted the UK-based campaign group 10:10.
Environmental organization Rainforest Action Network (RAN) used the day to block the entrances of San Francisco’s ten Chevron gas stations, with giant banners that read “Closed for Oil Spill Clean Up.” The group was protesting Chevron-caused oil pollution in Ecuador and its neutral stance in the debate over Proposition 23, which would suspend Calfornia’s global warming law if it passes in November.
“Activists report via twitter all 6 pumps down a Howard Chevron station,” RAN live-blogged on its “We Can Change Chevron” website.
Others posted their 10/10/10 actions on Facebook.
“We changed low energy lightbulbs and halogen lightbulbs to LED lightbulbs to save more then 80 % energy compared to previous consumption,” wrote Staffan Åkerlund, whose profile says he is from Uppsala, Sweden.
The Pakistan Sustainability Network wrote on the social networking site that it “hosted a collaborative event in Lahore with a Cycle ride, Walk for Climate Change and a clean up of a busy commercial area … we got lots of media coverage and photos. So much fun!”
For the organizers, there was a tone of cautious hope.
The “work parties” came after Congress failed to pass a climate bill, and as U.N. climate officials continue to downplay prospects for a treaty to curb global warming by the next major meeting in Cancun, Mexico in December.
“We’re quite confident we won’t save the #climate today, but maybe we’ll birth the movement that one day will,” tweeted 350.org. “Every #101010 pic you see today is proof that yr not alone, is proof the entire planet is committed 2 keep fighting,” it wrote later.
Indeed, some suggested the climate movement is bigger than it seems. “Twice as many #GlobalWorkParty events as #TeaParty events in USA. Remember that,” tweeted Adam Welz, who cited an article by McKibben and described himself as working in environmental media and living in the U.S. and South Africa.
Still others questioned whether the day’s events would produce political results.
“Just got back from the #101010 Climate rally at @BarackObama’s house. Will he stand up for future generations” tweeted Kate Finneran, who said she lives in Washington D.C.
There were some who were not at all impressed.
“#101010 rally in downtown Philly sparsely attended at best (120 ppl?). Why such apathy about #climate change?” tweeted Miranda Spencer, who described herself as an independent journalist and media critic.
William Teach, who called himself a “conservative North Carolinan” wrote: “Interesting that neither #350ppm nor #10/10/10 are trending on Twitter. Add #fail tags to both.”
Organizers maintained that 10/10/10 was the largest day of coordinated action the world has ever seen.
“The turnout today—at what is almost certainly the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history—demonstrates that people are fed up with the inaction of their leaders and ready to take matters into their own hands,” 350.org said in a statement on Monday. “Game on.”