350 or Bust: New Climate Change Campaigns Get Rolling

The Share350 initiative launches at this weekend's Green Fourth of July, bolstering an international climate-change campaign with its own Austin twist

Some say climate change is this generation's biggest challenge, but a loose-knit group of greens believes it has global warming's number, and that number is 350. Bill McKibben, the author and activist credited with being among the first to raise a ruckus over greenhouse gases and whose Step It Up 2007 initiative organized marches and helped goose legislators nationwide, has recently kicked off a new international awareness campaign known as 350.org. Its goal is to cut atmospheric carbon-dioxide content from today's approximately 387 parts per million to 350 – the level NASA climatologist James Hansen says we must attain in order to avoid major climactic deep shit, so to speak. Meanwhile, a group of local upstart eco-reformers is about to unveil a related effort with a decidedly Austin flavor.

Devised by the nonprofit Austin Green Art and some enviro-minded cohorts, Share 350.0 taps hometown tech talent to give folks an interactive resource for helping them shrink their carbon footprints and develop sustainable habits. The Web-based initiative will be unveiled at Saturday's second annual Green Fourth of July event, at the Downtown Austin Farmers' Market. "This is a local way to tie into Bill's international effort," said Austin Green Art Director Randy Jewart, "but the only real connection is through the number 350."

McKibben's project shoots for big, top-down goals, like strengthening a United Nations climate treaty currently being negotiated and placing a high enough price on carbon to deter the use of energy sources like coal, while making sure that poor countries are given a fair chance to develop through assistance in fostering clean-energy economies.

Austin's Share 350.0 uses a detailed yet simple set of online forms that includes hundreds of sustainability tips categorized by water use, laundry, transportation, and waste, among others. Participants can mark the tactics they use, folks can see what works for other users, and the collective good is quantified. Jewart says people can also use the site to share ideas, tools, gardening plots, cars, kitchenware, or whatever. "The most environmental destruction is tied to the cultural programming that we need all this stuff in our homes just to get by. Why don't we share?" he asks. Share 350.0 also plans to hold monthly meet-ups with food, music, and discussion. "Research indicates optimum community structures of 250 to 500 people," reads the Share 350.0 website. "When 350 Austinites register for this program, it will represent half of one-tenth of one percent of the regional population of this supposedly green city." Membership is free.

Marla Camp, a Share 350.0 organizer and publisher of local foodie mag Edible Austin, will be on hand at the Green Fourth of July passing out copies of the Austin Area Local Food Guide, a handy card with tips for buying local, growing organic, and finding restaurants with seasonal menus. Share 350.0 organizers are also hosting an informational dinner on July 24 (Casa de Luz, 1701 Toomey, 6-7:30pm), where they'll be signing up new members. You can learn more or sign up now at www.share350.com. To read about the local arm of McKibben's 350.org campaign, see www.austin350.org.

Green Fourth of July

Saturday, July 5, 9am-1pm, Republic Square Park, 422 Guadalupe

See www.green4th.com for details.

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Share350, Randy Jewart, Bill McKibben, climate change

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