McKibben: Thousands of “Moving Planet” Climate Rallies Underway Worldwide

Cyclists form the shape of a giant bicycle as environmental campaigners launch their Moving Planet – a global day of events focused on moving the planet away from fossil fuels towards a safer climate future – at Haggerston Park in east London. Photo credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

GLOBAL — Photos and videos of massive bicycle rides and marches are streaming onto the website this morning, as over 2,000 “Moving Planet” clean-energy demonstrations get underway in 175 countries around the world.

“The planet has been stuck for too long with governments doing nothing about the biggest problem we’ve ever faced,” said Bill McKibben, founder of, the international climate campaign coordinating the demonstrations. “This is the day when people will get the earth moving, rolling towards the solutions we need.”

Moving Planet got an early start in Cairo on Friday afternoon, when hundreds of Egyptians took to the streets to form a “Human Nile,” raising awareness about the threat global warming poses to critical water resources.

As the sun rose in the Pacific Saturday morning, villagers on the island of Tonga held a ceremony to bless the day of events while islanders on Tuvalu prepared for a day of swimming lessons and disaster drills to raise awareness about climate impacts.

As the day continued, hundreds of Australians flew kites adorned with clean energy slogans over Sydney’s Bondi Beach while mass bike rides took places across New Zealand.

Over in India, thousands of farmers, fisher folk, and local leaders gathered in Ongole, Andhra Pradesh to protest the construction of 80 new coal fired power plants, while hundreds of cyclists rode through the streets of Delhi to call for increased public transportation.

In the coming hours, Moving Planet will bring together hundreds of events across the Western Hemisphere, from the formation of a giant bicycle in London and enormous wind-turbine in Paris to mass bicycle parades in Sao Paulo, New York and San Francisco.

Photos from the days events will be displayed on a giant screen outside the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, reminding leaders the world expects progress at climate negotiations in South Africa this November and the Rio+20 Earth Summit next Spring.

“Moving Planet, is a global expression of unity, urgency and purpose to show political and business leaders they need to move from rhetoric to action,” said Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International. “Today, we’re beginning to move in the right direction.”


More information and hi-res photos and video available at: is an international grassroots climate campaign named after the safe upper concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, 350 parts per million. Right now, the atmosphere contains 392 ppm of CO2. Scientists say immediate action is necessary to address the crisis.

17 Responses to McKibben: Thousands of “Moving Planet” Climate Rallies Underway Worldwide

  1. Many thanks for posting this Joe. And to any of you discouraged from time to time–check out the pictures flooding into and get a sense of exactly what way the world is turning. Too slowly maybe, but by God people are doing their best

  2. todd tanner says:

    Thank you, Bill. (And Joe.) Kudos. Just back from the climate rally in Kalispell, MT at Flathead Community College, where any number of folks were talking about climate change and improving & expanding the local community garden.

  3. Jon Warren Lentz says:

    We sold our cars. We ride bikes. Today we ordered an electric trike. People ask questions because they want to be part of “some” solution. People ARE doing their best. Thank you Joe & Bill.

  4. Andy Hultgren says:

    “But by God people are doing their best.”

    Those are some of the most encouraging words I’ve read in a long time. Thank you Bill.

  5. Joan Savage says:


    It’s awesome, and it helps to realize the events come in all sizes. I was disappointed to attend one with less than a hundred until I saw the brave souls in smaller groups.

    The picture of the folks standing in the water in Tuvatu says so much.

  6. Dave says:

    Getting out and visibly supporting a livable climate is essential. Thanks for organizing and publicizing the great passion that we have for action on climate issues!

    I went and shoveled straw and compost at a community garden in the hot September sun here in Missoula. Great work to do with wonderful people!

  7. Unity College and friends staged a huge 350 Moving Planet event at the Common Ground Fair near Unity Maine, Maine’s largest country fair.

    Thanks to McKibben (an honorary Unity alum!) for the inspiration, leadership, and hard work.

  8. joyce says:

    I just got the sweetest human/electric trike there is 2 days ago, and rode it to our “Moving Planet” event today. Way too much fun!! Everyone wants to ride. Enjoy!

  9. publius2012 says:

    Question: I’m confused how 350 is possible?

    Considering (1) initial studies predict 100 billion tons of methane will be released — and probably much more, and (2) there are increasing mega-droughts (e.g., two 500 year droughts in the Amazon in ten years) whereas 350 would require a 10% increase in soil and tree/plant sequestration. Thanks.

  10. Bill G says:

    I really hate to say this, but all these rallies will probably do as much good as the millions of us who rallied against the faked evidence of Bush to attack Iraq.

    Many millions rallied repeatedly all over the world. The establishment simply ignored everything we had to say and did what they planned from the beginning.

  11. Joan Savage says:

    I don’t deny sharing your pessimism, but I buck myself up with examples of movements such as the abolition of slavery that faced organized opposition over decades, even lifetimes.
    Three generations of my family ran stations on the Underground RR between 1784 and 1860; even while horrible conditions persisted in slave states.
    On the overwhelmingly righteous issue of preventing the worst of climate change, saving those we can save, we have to persevere. Keep your hand on the plow.

  12. Jeff Huggins says:

    From the Streets of San Francisco (one person’s impression of the Moving Planet event in San Francisco)

    I went to Moving Planet in San Francisco yesterday. Here, I’ll share a few impressions and some thoughts about the task going forward.

    First, thanks to Bill McKibben, all the folks at, the Sierra Club, and everyone else involved. Bravo!

    It was a wonderful day in San Francisco yesterday: a very comfortable temperature, slightly misty at times, and lots of folks walking around.

    The biggest and most moving impression I had was this: the Moving Planet crowd was a great representation of a diversity of some of the most caring, human, humane, concerned, nature-loving, wonderful folks on the planet. What a great group! Parents, grandparents, super-young children, college kids, bicyclers, people in polar bear outfits, and all sorts of people of all ages, colors, shapes, and sizes. Seeing them all, and being part of them, was moving.

    That said, the other part of that impression was this: only a very, very tiny sliver of the population, in terms of numbers, showed up. In the parade there were about 850 people, plus or minus 20 percent. I counted, twice. It was a passionate and moving crowd — wonderful to see — but a crowd of less than 1,000 people, or perhaps only slightly more. I attended the event in San Francisco two years ago — the first one — and the crowd was larger then, if my memory is correct.

    This all gives me the impression — and admittedly, it’s just one person’s impression — that the sliver of the population that participates is a caring, committed, and wonderful one, but not a fast-growing one. These events are wonderful events for a number of reasons, one of them being to keep a sort of momentum among genuinely concerned and committed folks. But we haven’t turned a corner, yet, in terms of getting substantially more people on board. And they should be coming on board: it’s their climate and future too!

    It was great to see Bill McKibben himself there. He walked along in the parade, talking thoughtfully to folks, keeping a low profile except for his height and the fact that many recognized him. And he gave a thoughtful and great talk at the end.

    I have a few more thoughts to offer, but I’ll do it in a following comment.

    Be Well (and thanks again to the folks, the Sierra Club, and everyone who showed up),


  13. Jeff Huggins says:

    From the Streets of San Francisco (continued from above)

    Before and during the parade, I talked to lots of people. I did an informal, small-scale poll of sorts — admittedly non-scientific — just to gain an impression, myself, of the feelings and vibes in the crowd.

    It seems to me that this (still small) group of people — the heart of the movement, I suppose — consists largely of folks who are so deeply concerned, so deeply nature-loving, and so deeply human and humane that they are finding the motivation within themselves to get and stay involved. Most of them probably cannot not be active. They are having to draw on the fount of passion from within — i.e., without a whole lotta help from outside events and in the face of painstakingly slow progress, if you can call it progress.

    President Obama (or someone else) and the movement’s leaders would be wise to take something into account — and unwise not to: Real and substantial progress will be necessary to keep people motivated, help people avoid burnout and cynicism, help people avoid becoming hopeless, and bring more people on board — many more — and we NEED many more people on board!

    People are deeply, deeply disappointed in President Obama. It feels as though people are staying with it (the climate movement, that is), drawing on their internal founts of concern and hope, DESPITE President Obama rather than because of him or with his help. That’s a very, very big problem for the movement and for President Obama and the Dems. It’s a very big problem for the climate, for future generations, and for other species. Someone is going to have to show some real leadership, with edge to it.

    Most people (in this crowd, not in the general public) understand that the scientists, Nobel Peace Prize winners, and environmental groups want the President to say ‘no’ to the Keystone XL pipeline; and all of the people I spoke to want the President to say ‘no’; and they want that desperately. The President will lose energy, passion, support, credibility, and other things (including votes in many cases) if he approves Keystone XL. Again, the people at the event are trying hard to maintain their energy and passion despite the President; he’s perplexing them, frustrating them, and not motivating them, except for those that he’s driving away from the Democratic party in search of another solution. The President is sapping their energy, diluting it, and throwing it down the tubes, rather than inspiring it, supporting it, nurturing it, and putting it to good use. That can’t last very much longer, if you ask me.

    There are some real, huge, and not-easy questions to be faced, and choices to be made, by the President and by the movement’s leaders. The great and amazing “asset” we have is the Great Heart within the folks that show up at events like yesterday’s Moving Planet. But that Heart can’t and mustn’t be taken for granted. It shouldn’t be treated as a mere political plaything. Hearts need nourishment in order to continue pumping and to grow.

    I hope that President Obama will say ‘no’ to Keystone XL, and I hope that the movement’s leaders will quickly strengthen their approach and strategy to “make him do it” and ensure that he does.

    Thanks again to the 350 folks, the Sierra Club, and everyone at the San Francisco event, and other events, yesterday.

    Be Well,

    Jeff by,

  14. The Moving Planet events were admirable, but it seems to me they were also a conventional, 80s-style form of mobilization and messaging. New methods with more creativity are needed to penetrate people’s message-saturated, terabyte-clogged worldview. Of course, that sort of creativity is difficult, which may be why there are so few examples of it. More on

  15. Mark Shapiro says:

    Thank you.

  16. Roger S says:

    Kudos to Bill M., the team, and all of the volunteers who made Moving Planet go!
    It was a great effort; colorful and even fun, biking the miles to Boston’s big event.

    At the same time, and I hate to say it, the above comments by Bill G, Jeff, and Robert bring out another angle. We are dealing with the mother of all man’s problems, and we need to be brutally honest with ourselves regarding how we’re doing.

    Honestly, I’m very worried about our rate of progress as a movement, relative to Mother Nature’s AGW timetable. It’s time to “Go The Limit” to wake Americans up, and to ask Obama to give a “State of the Climate” address. Details at

  17. John McCormick says:

    Jeff, thanks for your always reasoned comments and this account of the SF “Moving Planet” event. We need reinforcement however it comes to us. And, your expressions are usually that.

    Judging from your estimate of the number of participants and your reflecting on crowd size of earlier events, we can both conclude the save the planet movement is not growing relative to what is at stake. Publicizing the event may have been a cause for lower turnout. Burnout, issue fatigue, lack of politically connective plan of action may also contribute to lower turnout. And, Americans are going through a crisis of confidence. I see that as a product of economic collapse for millions of Americans, the foreclosure epidemic, under- and unemployment and the crazies speaking for too many unwitting followers.

    Yes, we are desperate for new leaders and President Obama is looking for his groove. Where are the courageous politicos hiding?

    You might not vote for Obama if he approves the pipeline but you’ll never hear it mentioned at the Democratic Convention or even in the run-up to the election. He’ll have no challengers and the pipeline issue will be lost to history. In this nation of 310 million + there will be much greater concerns than the President’s failure to take up the climate chaos challenge….not for you, perhaps. And, maybe voter turnout will be lower than 2008 and that will hurt dems chance to hold on to the Senate.

    Malaise is both a physical and psychological condition that have to be treated properly before it takes down the victim. We Americans on on the verge of coming apart and we have only President Obama to pulling us out of creeping despair.

    I have gone round and round on the notion of supporting President Obama but I’m hearing him talk a new talk these past few weeks. Chalk it up to fund-raising stump speeches or to his awakening to the fact we actually have formed opinions about him and he realizes progressives are smart and stubborn.

    He’s not going to do the climate chaos speech because there is nowhere to go with its impact. Congress is deadheaded and no action on climate chaos is remotely possible.
    But, he can still veto and threaten to veto in the remaining days of his term in office.

    Medicare, medicaid and social security are major contributors to my family and we want a President who will defend them…at whatever cost. We, they, won’t be thinking about the pipeline decision. Maybe that is our failure but there is an immediate need to survive these hard times.