A Global Movement Towards a Better Future

350.org is a website that is trying to make a change towards the best. It is trying to create a solution for the entire world for having a better environment! It is creating a global movement to solve the climate crisis. The fuel that the world is burning is causing huge climate problems, and people around the globe are living with what their own hands have done. As development club members we’re also trying our best to spread awareness among people about the unhealthy environment that we’re all living in.

So, 350.org created a global awareness day on the 5th of May. The idea was that each country should take pictures demonstrating how the world has changed over the years, and the pictures should contain a dot, so on May 5th all of the dots can be connected. The idea was splendid, and our Development club was part of that action.

A week before May 5th, our club had a meeting in Mr. Kevin’s classroom. We were brainstorming through the whole session. We were divided into several groups so we could get as many ideas as possible. Each group had more than five ideas for the pictures. Some of them were rather impossible to make, still the ideas themselves were really creative. We thought of every change that is happening to Kurdistan because of the climate change, and we were trying to reflect them through the pictures. We actually discovered that the environmental effects that we witnessed over our life time are rather tremendous! Sandstorms, less rain, lower water levels, winter is much shorter, and many many more! We wanted to demonstrate most of our ideas into meaningful pictures, so people around the world would understand that a simple change can affect the entire globe.

On May 5th our club members gathered at our university, and even students who were not members in the club joined us. We started to take many great pictures, and the whole thing was a blast; we had more fun than we could have ever imagined. When we saw our picture on the 350.org website, we were all proud of what we did.

Advertisements

Environmental March in Iraq

Participants marching through Sulaimani's Azadi Park

I dropped a grimy styrofoam cup into the burlap sack around my shoulder and took stock of what was going on all around me. Dozens of bikers were chatting as they slowly pedaled past me on my left side. A handful of local artists were holding banners and mock-hangman nooses nailed to 2-meter-long slats of wood ahead of me. A few children holding bamboo shoots scampered beside their parents as they picked up empty water bottles and cigarette butts off of Sulaimani’s main street, and surrounding the entire 200-person-strong entourage was a perimeter of stern-faced police officers marching in formation. A smirk slowly spread to an ear-to-ear smile as I saw with my own eyes the most meaningful experience of my two years in Iraq take place.

Dozens of participants rode bikes to demonstrate easy alternatives to fossil fuels

Climate Action Day Iraq was just one of hundreds of grassroots demonstrations that took place on September 24th, 2011. The umbrella organization which made the demonstration possible was 350.org, named after the upper limit ppm (parts per million) of CO2 in the atmosphere, past which the effects climate change becomes increasingly difficult to reverse, 350. Since co-founding AUI-S’ Development Club in March, I have been able to meet and work with dozens of local NGOs in Sulaimani working towards making their community a better place. When I floated the idea about an environmental march in Sulaimani out to my contacts in Suli-based NGOs, the response was encouraging; Nature Iraq, Development Now, Sulyon, Mercy Corps, and the Green Environment Group were committed to seeing this project take place.

Many of the participants held banners and slogans promoting environmental protection.

I’ll spare you accounts of the mind-numbingly inefficient trips back and forth from the governor’s office to the special police headquarters as organizers and I prepared official permission for the event. According to Nabil Musa, one of the organizers for Climate Action Day and a staff member of Nature Iraq, the process for getting approval for a demonstration has become much more difficult following the heated public anti-government demonstrations earlier this year. In preparation for the event, Nabil, Azar Othman from Sulyon and I scouted the bazaar in search of sponsors for the event. We were able to use dozens of planks of wood thanks to donations from local woodworkers. Local bike shops granted us reduced prices for renting 35 bikes for the day. Not only that but Zara Supermarket not only donated use of its garbage truck but also subsidized bamboo plants which we purchased for Climate Action Day Iraq participants.

It was inspiring to see so many groups of people work together on a project like this. Many of the development club students I had been working with for months took ownership of the issue of climate change in Iraq. A number of my students help prepare the banners and paint t-shirts before the event at Sulyon’s office. Amanj Saeed, the leader of the Green Environment Group wrote much of the initial proposal, which helped many of the organizations explain and fund the project through donors. Local and international media came out to film the event and interview participants, which were able to spread the message of environmental protection to many millions of viewers nationwide.

Have you been involved in this project? Please feel free to rate this project using the stars below and leave specific comments so that projects like this one can become more meaningful over time.