On Saturday, April 14th, Norwalk area residents concerned about the catastrophic effects of climate change rallied to urge Congress to cut carbon dioxide emissions 80% by 2050. The event was part of the Step It Up 2007 campaign, the largest day of action focusing on climate meltdown in U.S. history.

Friends of Animals supporters and others distributed educational materials at the corner of Washington Street and Water Street, in South Norwalk, between 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.

Participants in the event were photographed displaying the message “Step It Up Congress! Cut Carbon 80% by 2050!” This photograph will be sent to Washington, D.C., along with photos from hundreds of similar events across the country, so members of Congress can see for themselves that their constituents demand bold action to limit carbon dioxide emissions, the principal greenhouse gas.

“If we the people lead, the government will follow; and each of us can commit to a plant-based diet today to reduce greenhouse gases that cause climate change,” said Priscilla Feral, President of Friends of Animals. “Adopting a vegan lifestyle can reduce greenhouse gas emissions more rapidly than replacing technologies that burn fossil fuels.”

Feral adds, “On April 2, 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency can regulate the global warming pollution produced by motor vehicles ““ another impetus for Congress to now pass a bill to Cut Carbon 80% by 2050.”

A Few Quick Facts:

The business of grazing animals contributes about 18% of all greenhouse gases that drive global warming — more than transportation, according to a November 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Eight-seven percent of agricultural land in the U.S. is devoted to raising animals for human consumption, according to the Worldwatch Institute. Grazing animals consume more food than they yield, and compete with humans and free-living animals for water.

Grazing animals emit methane, a powerful greenhouse gas also associated with landfills, coal mines, and oil and gas operations.

The conversion of wildlands to pastures and croplands to feed animals destroys rainforests and other ecologically important terrain needed by free-living animals who make up the planet’s natural biocommunity.

Step It Up is a nationwide campaign comprised of over 1,200 events in 50 states rallying around the need for substantial and rapid action on the issue of global warming. Events are being held from Maine to Hawaii, from Seattle to Key West. About two dozen events are planned in Connecticut.

“The groundswell of support for this effort is incredible. This is truly a viral grassroots movement, organized mainly through word of mouth, e-mail outreach among friends, and the online community,” said Step it Up Organizer, Bill McKibben. “The enormous participation in today’s movement is a wake-up call to legislators from across the country. Their constituents are urgently demanding that America get on the path towards reducing carbon emissions before it is too late.”

Climate meltdown will hit the most vulnerable of the world’s population hardest. The droughts and strengthening storms combined with rising sea levels caused by global warming will dramatically affect the already scarce resources relied upon by hundreds of millions. The organizers of the April 14 events see an opportunity and a responsibility to ensure that solutions to this crisis take vulnerable populations — people who already suffer racial prejudice and financial stress or disability — into account.

For more information please visit the Step It Up campaign website: www.stepitup2007.org.