350.org’s first campaign was the build up to an International Day of Climate Action in 2009, when people in 182 countries around the world organized over 5,200 events to call for an international climate treaty that set us back on the course to the safe upper limit of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere: 350 parts per million.
We’d picked that 350 goal because it was, first, what the science said was necessary, and second, because it was a number, Arabic numerals being recognized in nearly every language on Earth. We wanted to make sure that no matter where you lived — Mongolia, France, Sudan — you could see a 350, understand the target, and feel part of a unified movement.
Here in the United States, that unity is now under attack. Throughout his Presidential campaign, Donald Trump used hate and fearmongering to stoke division and prejudice. He called Mexican immigrants “rapists and murders,” women “pigs,” and painted all Muslims as “radical Islamic jihadists.” Since he has taken office, Trump has only gotten worse. His decision on Friday to ban Muslim immigrants and refugees from seven countries culminated a week of executive orders that attacked civil liberties, women’s rights, and the environment.
All of these orders are designed to divide us. Instead of celebrating our diverse faiths and upbringings, we start to fear what we do not know. Instead of pointing a finger at the corporations and corrupt politicians who are the root cause of our problems, we blame each other. Instead of organizing together, we start to fight amongst ourselves. Instead of building bridges, we start to build walls.
That’s exactly what Trump and his advisors are hoping for. Despite all his talk of unity, he’s a politician who thrives off of disunity and confusion. The avalanche of outrageous actions is meant to keep us off balance, reeling from one announcement to the next. His orders last week expediting Keystone XL and the Dakota Access Pipeline weren’t really about jobs or energy production, they were about stoking old divisions between labor and environmentalists and putting the climate justice movement on the defensive.
We’re not going to take the bait. Yesterday and throughout the week, hundreds of thousands of people took the streets to protest Trump’s attempts to divide us. At a demonstration against the Muslim ban in Boston yesterday, there were people from all walks of life: an African-American father holding his daughter on his shoulders with a sign in Arabic, a doctor in his lab coat, Vietnam veterans, the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, Muslim-Americans wearing hijabs, a woman holding a sign that said, “Science Knows No Boundaries.”
The climate crisis is the ultimate global problem, something no single country, or faith, or race, or gender, or sexual orientation can solve on its own. It’s a problem so intertwined with racism and classism (just look at the statistics of how coal plants are situated in low-income communities of color) that we cannot address global warming without taking on white supremacy and social inequalities. And it’s a problem that is just so big that it requires all the brilliance, creativity, passion, and talents that the world can offer.
In the United States, 350.org will continue to join with our progressive allies to protest Trump’s policies across the board, including the latest Muslim ban and proposals to build a wall on the border with Mexico. We’ll continue to work globally to push back against the rise of other right wing demagogues who seek to further divide our community. And we’ll continue to do our small part in bringing the world together to protect our common home. Climate change knows no borders and neither will we.