San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

University of Costa Rica Event Urges Climate Action

The rain stopped just in time for Costa Rican singer-songwriters Mal País to take the stage Saturday night at the environmental awareness event Festival 350.

Hundreds of University of Costa Rica (UCR) students gathered in San Pedro, east of San José, at the UCR engineering parking lot to see the beloved Tico band during an activity to raise awareness about climate change.

The event, on the International Day of Climate Action, was staged to draw attention to efforts for a safe amount of airborne carbon dioxide. Scientists agree that in order to avoid cooking the planet to a point that humans can’t bear, atmospheric CO2 levels must be at or below 350 parts per million.

The current level is 390 parts per million.

Costa Rica’s event coincided with festivals and rallies in as many as 180 countries pressing for action on climate change, according to the organization

Saturday’s event featured a number of activities and information to help people reduce CO2 emissions and adopt healthier and more sustainable practices, all in hopes of reaching the magic number of 350.

Attendees test-drove electric cars, bought shrubs to plant in efforts to sequester airborne CO2 and received brochures with tips on conserving water. According to the UCR’s Integral Environment Management Program (PROGAI), an open faucet consumes 12 liters of water per minute.

To avoid such waste, PROGAI advised students to open water valves only half way and turn them off when not in use.

Bruce Callow, political and press officer of the British Embassy, kicked off the day with his multi-media performance “Odyssey 2047,” a frightening portrayal of what the world could look like in fewer than 40 years.

“Thousands of Costa Rica’s coastal residents will have to leave their homes and flee to higher ground,” the presentation noted. And between signs that read “Let’s contribute to the well-being of the planet,” Mal País hammered home the day’s message with lightning violin and guitar solos.

“It’s not impossible to save our planet,” said bassist Jaime Gamboa into the microphone. “If we start to change now, we will see the result soon.”

–Mike McDonald


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