To communicate concepts that can sometimes seem abstract – 350, parts per million, atmospheric carbon dioxide – we look to artists, the great communicators of the world, to help us convey their meaning.  At the heart of the matter, 350 is simply a goal and a symbol that we’ve gone too far.  To help communicate this message, we’ve reached out to artists of all kinds, from graffiti artists to dancers, and most recently, to writers.  As you may know, director Bill McKibben is primarily a writer – he wrote the first book about climate change for a general audience back in 1989.  Now he’s looking to his colleagues to see how they can use their craft to inspire and make a difference.  Just a few days ago we got in our first submission, from the great Chilean poet Ariel Dorfman.  Please read below for inspiration, and check back here for more pieces from 350 Writers! 

by Ariel Dorfman

Oh dear Oh dear Oh dear

What should I do?

The polar bears are dying out.

Oh dear Oh dear

The children cannot breathe.

What should I do?

The elephants have nowhere
                     to flee.
The elephants Oh dear it’s true.

What should I
                       can I
                                 must I do?

Oh dear Oh 
Three Five O
Oh dear that scares me scares me so
Oh dear we won’t survive
Three Five O up in the sky
and no more birth
and it’s good-bye.

The seventh extinction is on its way.
Can the eighth extinction be far behind?

Oh dear
It’s much too big for little me

Not a tree not a tree
not even a shade of green.

Oh dear oh dear.
The cities all
                wiped out.

The drought the plague the black dark
Not even a bird
             for our last breath.

And there’s nothing
I can do.

Much too big for you for him for her for me.

We’re melting the sea.

Oh dear


Oh if I could only trust
the hand that is close
the hand that is here

Oh if I could count all over again
but not with dread.

Maybe one plus one makes more than two
maybe three can be three million strong
in fact
maybe five means five billion tall
ready to act

to make that O the sign of birth
and not the mark
              of nightmares long
              and lonely bread.

Three Five O
Three Five O

organizers bold
bells that toll
climbers on the mountain
divers under the reef

we’ll come together

we’ll come together
in every corner of the earth

    we have very little time
but we have each other

    we have very little time
but I have little you
and you have little me

and time enough for us
to act and be free
        as long as we have each other
one hand in my hand
there can only be birth

my dear oh my dear

there’s just love enough and time
now and here

now and here

to act and then nothing
to fear