If you are interested in taking action to combat climate chaos, here are five organizations, including 350.org, on the front lines of the fight.
350.org was founded with the goal of uniting climate activists into a movement, with a strategy of bottom-up organizing around the world. Activists in 189 countries have organized 350.org’s local climate-focused campaigns, projects and actions. In India, for example, organizers have mobilized people to speak out against the country’s dependence on coal for growth. In the US, the group has campaigned to divest public institutions — such as municipalities and universities — from the fossil fuel industry, and to stop the Keystone XL pipeline.
In the Keystone fight, 350.org has partnered with a number of local organizations in the path of the pipeline across North America, including Bold Nebraska, Tar Sands Blockade, the Indigenous Environmental Network, Idle No More and the Hip Hop Caucus. 350.org takes its name from what climate scientists say is the safe concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere — 350 parts per million (ppm). (We’ve now passed 400 ppm.)
“This particular project — the Keystone XL pipeline — is so horrendous, it’s so wrong and it’s being proposed at such an important time that we don’t want to leave any tool on the table,” Brune told Moyers and Company shortly before his arrest, referring to the need to turn to protest. The pipeline would “guarantee that we’re locked into the most carbon-intensive fuel source on the planet for the next half-century.” Earlier this week, the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against the US Army Corps of Engineers over the project.
In September of last year, 30 people who were aboard the Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise drew international attention when they were detained by authorities after a demonstration at a Russian drilling rig in the Arctic. The activists sought to highlight the exploitation of the fragile Arctic environment for fossil fuel extraction. Some of the activists were at first charged with piracy, though the Russian government later reduced the charges to “hooliganism” and released all involved, then dropped the charges entirely ahead of the Sochi Olympics. Two years earlier, two activists — including Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo — boarded a drilling rig off the coast of Greenland and were blasted for hours by fire hoses as the crew attempted to repel them, pushing them into the choppy sea.
Idle No More, a group of mostly Canadian Native North Americans, sprang into existence in October 2012, when Canada’s conservative prime minister Stephen Harper pushed a law, known as C-45, through parliament that rolled back both environmental protections and indigenous peoples’ sovereignty in order to make the country’s tar sands, and the crude oil that could be extracted from them, more easily exploitable. Resource extraction projects, like the tar sands, often hurt North America’s indigenous populations disproportionately.
In protest of C-45, the group organized rallies in major cities across Canada. A leader of Idle No More, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, started what would become a six-week-long hunger strike and groups of protesters blockaded rail lines and highways.
Last year, McKibben wrote about the group in the Huffington Post, “I sense that [Idle No More] is every bit as important as the Occupy movement that transfixed the world a year ago; it feels like it wells up from the same kind of long-postponed and deeply-felt passion that powered the Arab spring. And I know firsthand that many of its organizers are among the most committed and skilled activists I’ve ever come across. In fact, if Occupy’s weakness was that it lacked roots (it had to take over public places, after all, which proved hard to hold on to), this new movement’s great strength is that its roots go back farther than history.”
The group continues work that others, such as the Indigenous Environmental Network, have been doing for years.
The Union of Concerned Scientists was founded during the height of the Vietnam war during a teach-in at MIT to protest the US government’s militarization of science. Initially, the group was concerned with nuclear proliferation and energy issues, but over time has shifted its focus to sustainability. Today, the majority of the UCS’s areas of advocacy focus on climate change.
The group is responsible for groundbreaking research on sustainability standards for vehicles and the disastrous affects of climate change. “Traditionally there have been two types of science: basic and applied. UCS has added a third category to the canon: engaged science,” the group’s website says. “Since its beginning, UCS has followed the example set by scientists: We share information, seek the truth, and let our findings guide our conclusions.”
Along with other groups such as the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, the Union of Concerned Scientists has been integral in refuting those who claim climate change is a hoax. The UCS also produces reports on how the fossil fuel industry and other private interests profit from inaction on climate change.