May 5 “Connect the Dots”

At nearly 1,000 events in over 100 countries, people will highlight how climate change is effecting their lives in the here and now.
350 American Samoa Environmental Club members during a recent clean up near Lions Park. [courtesy photo]

People around the world are joining 350.org today, May 5 for the first ever Climate Impacts Day, a global event designed to “connect the dots” between climate impacts, such as extreme weather events, and the broader climate crisis.

The events taking place around the world on May 5 tell the story of a planet already reeling from the numerous impacts of the climate crisis.

Firefighters in New Mexico will hold posters with dots in a forest ravaged by wildfires, while divers in the Marshall Islands take a dot underwater to their dying coral reefs. On glaciers in the Alps, Andes, and Sierras, climbers will unfurl dots on melting glaciers with the simple message: “I’m Melting.” Villagers in Northeastern Kenya will create dots to show how ongoing drought is killing their crops, while city-dwellers in Rio de Janeiro hold dots where mudslides from unusually heavy rains wiped out part of their neighborhood.

“We just celebrated Earth Day. May 5 is more like Broken Earth Day, a worldwide witness to the destruction global warming is already causing,” said Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org, the global climate campaign that is coordinating the events. “People everywhere are saying the same thing: our tragedy is not some isolated trauma, it’s part of a pattern.”

350.org came up with the idea for the “Connect the Dots” campaign after observing the string of extreme weather events over the course of the last year. In 2011, the United States saw 12 weather disasters that each caused one billion dollars or more in damage. Around the world, extreme flooding submerged nearly all of Bangkok, drought continued to ravage the Horn of Africa, and typhoons and hurricanes hit vulnerable communities in places like the Philippines. This March, a heatwave in the US broke over 15,000 temperature records.

A recent Yale University poll in the U.S. found that Americans’ concern about climate change was increasing with more extreme weather and warmer temperatures. According to the research, 82 percent of Americans report that they personally experienced one or more types of extreme weather or a natural disaster in the past year.

“Most people in the country are looking at everything that’s happened; it just seems to be one disaster after another after another,” Anthony A. Leiserowitz of Yale University, one of the researchers who commissioned the new poll, told the New York Times. “People are starting to connect the dots.”

Thus far, they’ve been doing so without the help of the mainstream media. A new report by Media Matters for America found out that nightly news coverage on the major networks decreased 72% between 2009 and 2011. On the Sunday shows, 97% of the stories mentioning climate change were about politics in Washington, DC or on the campaign trail, not about extreme weather or recent scientific reports.

 In American Samoa, the 350 Environment Club is kicking off a “Connect the Dots” billboard design competition across every high school on the island. Details will be publicized soon.

Sources: 350. org & 350 American Samoa Envionmental Club


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