In 2006, An Inconvenient Truth helped spark a new wave of concern about global warming. Now, our team here at 350.org is hoping to spark a new wave of not just concern, but action, with a new documentary called Do the Math about the growing movement to take on the fossil fuel industry.
The documentary won't be coming out in a movie theater near you (getting films into theaters can take years and boatloads of cash). Instead, we're taking a more grassroots approach. 350.org supporters and partners have organized over 700 screenings and house parties to watch the film this coming Sunday, April 21 as part of a nationwide event we're calling #EarthNight. In the United States, the events range from a screening at the Larkspur Cafe in Sitka, Alaska, to an event at the Walker County Democrat Headquarters in Huntsville, Texas, to a student-run showing at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. Two panel discussions featuring Bill McKibben, Dr. James Hansen, and movement allies and leaders will be live-streamed at 8 p.m. ET and then at 8 p.m. PT.
You can find out more information about the livestream and organize your own screening at: 350.org/math. Here's a preview of the film:
The documentary follows 350.org founder Bill McKibben on last November's Do the Math tour that reached over 25,000 people at sold-out shows in 21 cities across the country (and tens of thousands more online). Part TEDTalk, part revival meeting, the Do the Math show built off of an article called "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math" that Bill had published in Rolling Stone earlier in the summer. The piece became one of the most viral stories ever published by the magazine, garnering over 125,000 likes on Facebook and millions of page views.
In the article, and onstage throughout the tour, Bill laid out three numbers that explain our current crisis: In order to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, scientists say we can emit only 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but the fossil fuel industry has roughly 2,795 gigatons of carbon dioxide just in their reserves, over five times too much. In other words, the fossil fuel industry is a rogue industry, outlaws not against the laws of the United States -- for the most part they get to write those laws but against the laws of physics and chemistry.
350.org planned the Do the Math tour not only to share these stark new numbers, but to spark a new divestment campaign targeting the fossil fuel industry. Modeled on the anti-apartheid campaigns of the 1980s, this new divestment effort planned on targeting the 200 fossil fuel companies that own the vast majority of the world's coal, oil and gas reserves.
The tour worked. At the first stop, the Mayor of Seattle surprised the audience by committing to keep city funds out of the industry and urged his pension system to do the same. Now, six months later, the fossil fuel divestment campaign has spread to over 300 college and university campuses. Four colleges, Hampshire, Unity, Sterling and College of the Atlantic, have committed to divestment and dozens more boards of trustees are considering the move. 350.org and our allies at the Center on Wisconsin Strategy and in the City of Seattle will be officially launching a city and state divestment campaign the week after Earth Day.
The tour also helped expand the campaign against the Keystone XL pipeline. A 350.org project, Tar Sands Action, helped nationalize the pipeline fight back in August 2011 with a two-week sit-in at the White House that led to the arrests of 1,253 people, the largest civil disobedience in over 20 years in this country. In November 2011, more than 15,000 people returned to Washington, D.C. to surround the White House. A few days later, President Obama announced that he would be delaying the project for additional environmental reviews.
TransCanada, the pipeline builder, is now attempting to build the southern leg of the project, which doesn't require a federal permit, and is facing dogged opposition from the Tar Sands Blockade and landowners. On Feb. 17, over 40,000 people took part in a "Forward on Climate" rally on the National Mall to push President Obama to reject the northern leg once and for all. On April 18, the State Department will be holding its final public comment hearing on the pipeline's environmental review in Grand Island, Neb.
350.org hopes that the Do the Math documentary will help the organization continue to expand the grassroots climate movement and prepare for new challenges ahead. In a new piece published in the current issue of Rolling Stone, McKibben described the growing "Fossil Fuel Resistance" that is spreading out across the country. Meanwhile, the divestment campaign continues to charge ahead at full force. At the global level, 350.org will be hosting Global Power Shift this June, an activist training camp for 500 of its top young climate leaders from over 100 countries.
I hope you'll join us this April 21 for the Earth Night screenings and take part in this growing movement for climate action.