Moving Planet rallies were worldwide on Saturday, September 24th. The San Diego event to promote local and global solutions to climate change was held at Balboa Park with the theme of “Moving San Diego to a Clean Energy Future”. According to Masada Disenhouse, the lead organizer of the San Diego event, “Climate change is an issue that reaches all areas of the world, and with this rally, we want to inform San Diego residents that their city will be hit hard by temperature and sea level changes. We need to hold our elected representatives accountable in every manner possible.”
The rally began at 6th Avenue between Laurel and Juniper at where many participants signed cards pledging to decrease their driving, consumption of meat and water usage. Most participants truly began the rally as they transported themselves to Balboa Park via alternative transportation including: walking, train, trolley, and biking. Official locations for meeting other participants included bike rides from Mission Bay, UCSD, SDSU, USD and Coaster #680 from Oceanside.
Before the rally there was an Interfaith Dialogue. Among the speakers were representatives from the Unitarian, Methodist, and Muslim faiths. They shared the common principle that the earth is sacred and we are to protect and care for creation. This idea is explained by Jeanette Ham, head of Welcome & Discipleship at Foothills United Methodist Church, La Mesa“Caring for the Earth and especially working to decrease the impact of climate change is an issue shared by all faiths, creating an excellent opportunity to work together.
As the rally began, bicyclists and walkers made their way through Balboa Park chanting “Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Fossil fuels have got to go!” and carrying signs with “I Love Clean Energy” and “There is no Planet B”. Once the more than 350 people for the 350.org event arrived at the speaker location, they sang “Where have all the Flowers gone?” and “Pave Paradise, Put up a Parking Lot.” The rally was emceed by Peter Zahn of the US Green Chamber of Commerce and Marilee McLean of the Solana Beach Clean and Green Team. Participants then heard from local leaders including, Congressman Bob Filner and Mayor Lesa Heeber of the Solana Beach.
Congressman Filner said, “As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I strongly support robust investments in our nation’s public transit systems, biking and walking programs, and our roads and bridges. By investing in appropriate transportation, we can reduce carbon emissions and work to bring the U.S. into line with the rest of the world by bringing carbon dioxide levels back down to 350 parts per million (ppm). We must also invest in clean energy and clean energy jobs and put Americans back to work!”
Mayor Lesa Heebner stated. “As Mayor, I am proud to have signed the US Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement on behalf of the City of Solana Beach. The city has taken concrete steps toward reducing its carbon footprint, by raising the percentage of waste that is diverted from landfills from 50% to over 63%, switching to organic practices and drought tolerant landscaping, and adopting Green Building Incentive Programs. I want to let other cities know climate change is real, it requires action from city hall as well as our residents and businesses, and most importantly, what you do will make a difference!”
The backdrop for the speakers was four panels that showed the current reality of drought, big oil, a traffic jam, and a thermometer marked with the acceptable 350 and the current 392 parts per million of carbon. These panels were flipped to show the bright alternative future of clean energy, bicyclists and public transportation with green jobs.
The timing of this event seems especially important for the San Diego region, since the San Diego region’s draft transportation plan received strong criticism from the California Attorney General because “it sets the bar too low” and transportation contributes to 40% of GHGs and pollution.
Moving Planet was created by the grassroots organization 350.org. 350.org’s mission is to get us back to 350 ppm. To preserve ourplanet, scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 392 parts per million to below 350 ppm. But 350 is more than a number—it’s a symbol of where we need to head as a planet.