Groups across Colorado plan for ‘International Day of Climate Action’

More than 60 Colorado climate actions are planned for Saturday, which has been dubbed the 2009 International Day of Climate Action by the grass-roots environmental campaign 350.org.

The acts range from the fairly mundane – ringing of church bells and carpool rallies – to the fairly creative, such as an event in Aspen in which participants are being asked to dress for winter in order to sprawl on the dry ski slopes of Aspen Mountain and form the words “Save Snow” with their bodies.

Likely the best-attended event in the state will be a rally from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the State Capitol in Denver, organized by 350Denver, but to find the event nearest you, check out the interactive map on 350.org.

Founded by author Bill McKibben, whose 1989 book “The End of Nature” is widely credited as the first mass-consumption work on global warming, 350.org is named after what many scientists believe is the safest level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere: 350 parts per million. The earth’s atmosphere is currently at about 387 parts per million of CO2 and rising rapidly.

The 350.org website claims there will be 3,714 actions in 162 countries Saturday, including 64 in Colorado, where concerns run much deeper than merely maintaining snowpack on the slopes of the state’s ski resorts.

Scientists warn warmer temperatures have contributed to a mountain pine park beetle epidemic that has greatly increased the likelihood of massive wildfires by killing more than 2 million acres of Colorado’s lodgepole pine forests and also may now be impacting aspen forests.

And they also warn that hotter, dryer weather is reducing precipitation and snowpack needed to maintain a healthy river system in a largely arid state. The Colorado River is viewed as particularly at risk.

All of this comes as the debate over federal climate change legislation heats up in Congress ahead of a climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December – the culmination of two years of negotiations to replace the U.N.’s 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown Monday, speaking at the Major Economies Forum in London promised to personally attend the Copenhagen summit and urged other world leaders to follow suit. He warned of looming global climate and economic catastrophe, and there has been mounting international pressure on the Obama administration to finalize a policy ahead of Copenhagen. Congress continues to move slowly, however, on climate change legislation.

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