This is an emergency. The planet is burning up’ warns environmentalist

Published December 11, 2009

As the global climate change talks continue in Copenhagen, churches around the world are preparing to make their concerns heard by ringing their bells this Sunday, December 13 at 3 p.m. Church bells have traditionally been used to warn of an imminent danger. That’s why they were chosen as a symbolic gesture to warn of the dangers of climate change, according to activists organizing the global campaign. The coalition of environmentalists, which includes Canadian scientist David Suzuki and Inuit activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier, is asking that churches ring their bells 350 times to represent 350 parts per million (ppm). Some climate scientists have said this is the upper limit for safe levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. According to the website, CO2 levels were about 275 ppm until 200 years ago; they are currently estimated to be about 390 ppm.Anthony Ketchum, a parishioner who splits his worship time between Anglican churches in Toronto and Mono Mills, Ont., will be in Copenhagen on Sunday. A long-time environmentalist, Ketchum’s house in Mono Mills is independent of the electrical grid, complete with solar panels and a wind turbine. He will be attending the Copenhagen meetings as an observer with the civil society organization AVAAZ. He says that all the churches in Copenhagen will be ringing their bells on Sunday afternoon as a sign of their concern about climate change. In the days before our modern means of communications, he said, ringing the church bells was a way to communicate that there was an emergency such as a fire burning. It’s important for churches to ring their bells now, he says, because “this is an emergency. The planet is burning up.” Kairos, a Canadian ecumenical social justice group, is tracking Canadian events registered for Dec. 13 and says that more than 250 churches across Canada have made commitments to participate. Dozens of Canadian Anglican churches have promised to ring their bells.


  • Leigh Anne Williams

    Leigh Anne Williams joined the Anglican Journal in 2008 as a part-time staff writer. She also works as the Canadian correspondent for Publishers Weekly, a New York-based trade magazine for the book publishing. Prior to this, Williams worked as a reporter for the Canadian bureau of TIME Magazine, news editor of Quill & Quire, and a copy editor at The Halifax Herald, The Globe and Mail and The Bay Street Bull.

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