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Capitol Turnout for Climate Change

New America Media, News Report, Naomi D. Briley Posted: Oct 28, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. Though crowds from 181 countries assembled on October 24 for the largest day of climate action in history, its likely that only the gathering in the nations capitol was feted to the polyrhythmic sound of the citys own go-go music.

Our goal was to engage locals and young people -- who would undoubtedly benefit from a green economy in the 350 message -- while speaking to them through a familiar language: Hip Hop, said Kalu Ugwuomo, member of the D.C.- based Hip Hop Caucus and one of the organizers of the event.

The International Day of Climate Action, organized by 350.Org, used the Internet to mobilize millions of people and raise awareness around the common goal of a healthier planet. The number 350 comes from the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide, measured in parts per million (PPM) in the earths atmosphere. Leading scientists say that this crucial number is the ideal limit for global stability. The current measurement is 387 ppm.

Organizers said that over 5,200 events were staged around the world to call for political action against the climate change crisis. D.C. activists used the day to focus on the global issue of climate change, while also addressing how local communities are affected.

Rev. Lennox Yearwood, president of the Hip Hop Caucus and opening speaker of the event, summarized the goal:

Humanity is at one of those moments where it must fight poverty and pollution at the same time, and we must rise to the occasion immediately. The new environmental movement will draw everyone from all walks of life to work together to solve the climate crisis. This will be the only way we will affect the decisions in Copenhagen and in Congress.

The International Day of Climate Action preceded the United Nations Climate Change Conference, scheduled for this December in Copenhagen, Denmark. World leaders will meet to negotiate a new global treaty on reducing carbon emissions. Organizers of October 24 events say that a major problem with the treaty proposals is that they do not currently pass the 350 test.

Washington, D.C.s event, held at Malcolm X Park in Northwest D.C., and initiated by the Hip Hop Caucus and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, was co-sponsored by 350.org and dozens of other local and national organizations.

Throughout the day, political leaders, activists, environmentalists, and local youth were brought together through music and art. Over 1,000 people gathered in the park with the local Go-Go Band, Backyard, headlining the event.

With the slogan, Fighting poverty and pollution at the same time, the Hip Hop Caucus participation was in keeping with its Green the Block campaign, aimed at ending inner city poverty through the creation of a green economy, promoting youth participation in policymaking, politics, and community development projects.

After several performances by local musicians, poets and artists, the group marched and rode bikes through pouring rain to reassemble in Lafayette Park across from the White House. There, hundreds gathered, creating a circle of hope in order to send a message to President Obama, who has yet to announce whether he will attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference only a few months away.

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