By Dorien Boxhoorn, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Even for criticasters of global warming, it gets harder and harder to deny the changes in climate that are occurring around the globe. Polar caps are melting fast and extreme weather seems to be more common than anything in recent memory. To help build awareness and action, last Saturday, September 24th, the world’s largest rally, named ‘Moving Planet’ and initiated by 350.org, took place in more than 175 countries all around the globe, including Brazil.
The goal of ‘Moving Planet’ was to get the world leaders to think and move beyond fossil fuels. Events were held throughout Brazil, including Rio, São Paulo, Salvador, Brasília, Recife, Porto Alegre, Aracajú, and Vitória, the capital of the state of Espírito Santo.
Clifford Kaplan, an American living in Rio and one of the organizers of the events of ‘Moving Planet’ explains: “It is necessary to raise awareness among people about global warming. The more people we can mobilize the better, because these people can put pressure on the world leaders and their own government to take action in finding solutions to deal with the climate crisis.”
In a symbolic way, people around the globe demonstrated for a greener future in a climate-friendly way, whether it be on foot or by bike, wheelchair, skateboard, on skates or by other ways of sustainable movements. Just outside the UN Headquarters in New York City, where world leaders gathered for the UN General Assembly, the organization projected photos and videos of all Moving Planet events around the world.
Alex Teixeira, another of the organizers of the Rio de Janeiro edition of ‘Moving Planet’ says: “The world is fed up with rampant consumerism. It is important that factories around the world change to clean energy. Brazil could, for example, also reduce the tax burden for electric vehicles and ensure a high-quality public transport, including ferries. By taking action we want to enforce the first Zero Carbon Olympics in history.”
Three main events were organized in Rio de Janeiro last Saturday. There was a lighting ceremony of the ECOlympic torch on the Pedra Bonita, a bike ride through Praça XV and an EcoCultural Fair at Cinêlandia.
The torch was taken to Cinêlandia, and the world champion in rowing Fabiana Beltcame was one of the athletes that carried the torch, accompanied by an on-bike orchestra.
For Kaplan the day was a success. “It really was a fantastic day, we brought people together with the same passion for the environment. These people will keep on coming together to discuss ways to raise the awareness about climate change and think of solutions. We hope that we have other people inspired to join our group.”
The next upcoming event of 350.org is the UN conference on Sustainable Development that will be held in Rio de Janeiro in June. Kaplan claims “We are planning some major actions for that week, everybody who wants can participate in the event.”
Brazil, which is fifty percent covered in rainforest, remains on the world stage for environmental issues. There were four murders of activists in May 2011 in the days surrounding a tense debate in Congress over changes to Brazil’s Forest Code.