A climate action group, 350 Massachusetts, with approximately 7,600 members will launch a chapter on Cape Cod on Sunday, April 27, at the Falmouth Public Library. There will be guest speakers and local band Paradise Rock will perform at the event, which will take place from 3 to 5 PM.
The goal of 350 MA and its Cape launch is to unify concerned citizens to combat climate change and to influence policy decisions to reduce the use of fossil fuels and increase the use of alternative energy.
Cape Cod will join that effort as the 11th node in the 350 MA movement. Falmouth residents and activists from Occupy Falmouth, Falmouth Action Committee, members of the clergy, The Green Center in Hatchville, Cape Downwinders and others concerned with the state of the earth’s warming climate are involved.
The group organizing the launch expects more than a hundred people to attend. It has met weekly for the last month in the Fisher House on Church Street in Woods Hole to bring the event together.
Richard A. Houghton III, the acting director of the Woods Hole Research Center, a 2007 Nobel Prize co-winner, and co-author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, will speak at the launch about the climate situation. Fiamma Straneo, a physical oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, will speak about her ongoing research in the Arctic; Malcolm D. Bliss, Better Future Project’s statewide coordinator for 350 MA, will speak on “Everyday Heroes of the Climate Movement in Massachusetts.”
The Massachusetts group is an extension of 350.org, a countrywide organization that has gained national media attention in its opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. The organization was co-founded by Bill McKibben, a journalist and author.
“Climate change is a real existential threat to life,” said Peter L. Waasdorp Jr., an organizer for the new Cape and Islands 350 node and a resident of Beccles Road in Sippiwissett. “It is a threat to a good number of the folks on this planet and we are responsible for it. It is up to us to do something.”
Mr. Waasdorp has helped to organize the Cape and Islands 350 MA. Others involved include Mr. Bliss; Elise R. Hugus of Falmouth; Christina C. Rawley, Fay Road, Woods Hole; and the Reverend Deborah M. Warner, rector at the Church of the Messiah in Woods Hole.
“The interesting thing about the 350 MA network is that when there is a particular need in a given area, people will come together to support that need from across the state,” Mr. Bliss said. He said that last summer, 350 MA gathered people in Barnstable in support of the Cape Wind project. Members of 350 MA also responded with a protest of a proposed gas plant in Salem recently. Members are in the process of organizing a protest against a proposed natural gas pipeline that could run from Pittsfield to Beverly known as the Tennessee Gas pipeline. The Worcester area 350 MA group will organize an information session on the pipeline in Fitchburg.
“Many people I talk to go through some stages and phases of climate action. Some take action to reduce their carbon footprint, but everyone discovers that, well, that’s good but it really isn’t enough. We need to do more. We need to do something for the whole state,” Mr. Bliss said. “We unify the voices to be better heard.” He added that if their voices are heard in Massachusetts, Congress in Washington, DC, might start to take notice of the state’s progress.
An article in The Boston Globe in November stated that 350 MA has tripled its membership in the last year, a statistic Mr. Bliss confirmed.
On a policy level, Mr. Bliss said the group is in constant contact with senators and representatives. “We let them know that people care and our governors want to heart that,” Mr. Bliss said. “They need our support.”
Mr. Bliss said that 350 MA has staged rallies at the state house, including one on Valentine’s Day in which members lobbied state representatives. Their message was not to build more fossil fuel infrastructure, divest Massachusetts pension funds from fossil fuels, and to promote clean energy.
“Everyone has a role to play in confronting the climate crisis,” Mr. Bliss said. “There is an incredible amount of work to do and this is so important to us.”