Ring Out For Climate Change in New Paltz and Around the World

Ring Out for Climate Change
Ring Out for Climate will sound an alarm about the climate emergency

On Oct. 30, at 1 p.m. EDT, houses of worship in New Paltz will be ringing their bells for 30 minutes to signal Code Red before the 26th annual United Nations (UN) Climate Conference also known as COP26.

COP26 is scheduled to take place from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 in Glasgow, Scotland, where members of the UN will determine the course of action and the rate at which a decision needs to come in order to bring an end to the climate crisis. Glasgow was chosen as the location for the meeting because it has a set target for carbon neutrality by 2030, aims to be one of the greenest cities in Europe through its Sustainable Glasgow campaign and is fourth in the world in the Global Destination Sustainability Index.

“The COP26 summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change,” states the The UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 website. “The UK is committed to working with all countries and joining forces with civil society, companies and people on the frontline of climate change to inspire climate action ahead of COP26.”

 Jim O’Dowd of the New Paltz Climate Action Coalition explained, “The COP26 gathering in Glasgow will determine how serious our species is about addressing the climate emergency we now face. Over the course of the past 25 meetings, which were filled with good intentions and lofty rhetoric, greenhouse gas emissions have soared and we are moving perilously close to irreversible feedback loops as the planet heats up.”

Traditionally, church bells have been rung in times of danger, to warn people of impending danger. Previously, bells in England were rug to warn the people of oncoming floods, fires, and even potential invasions by the Vikings, the Spanish Armada and Napoleon’s Army, added O’Dowd. 

“Back in the 1500s the church bells were primed to ring expecting the Spanish Armada to land. That didn’t happen, you know because of a storm. But again, during the Napoleonic Wars, and during World War Two, they were primed to ring should France invade or should Hitler invade. Fortunately those things did not happen,” said Barbara Kidney, Ph.D is Chair of the Hudson Valley Green Party, a psychologist in private practice, and co-author of The Psychology of Peace Promotion (Springer, 2019). “Unfortunately, we’re all going to go extinct here with the climate crisis.”

The initiator of the “Ring Out for Climate!” campaign is Edward Gildea, a UK Green and a traditional bell-ringer, who presented his idea at the Sept. 9 Green Party International Zoom conference on COP26. Kidney attended the meeting and brought the idea to the Hudson Valley as well as other parts of the U.S. and Canada.

In her own words, the purpose of ‘Ring Out for Climate!’ is “to sound the alarm about the climate emergency and galvanize people to urge their federal, state, and local elected officials to promote legislation to mitigate climate change and protect the environment by curtailing carbon emissions and promoting sustainable Earth friendly practices, including in energy, agriculture, and construction.”

There will be many ways for students of New Paltz to join the Ring Out, as well as to fight for and learn about climate justice. 

“Students and others on campus can join in by drumming, clanging pots & pans etc, and after the carillon stops sounding, by playing the 5 minute audio clip of the tolling of the largest church bell in the world, St. Buryan’s, in Truro, Cornwall, UK,” said Kidney.

“SUNY New Paltz is joining a community call to action to highlight the vital importance of this event. Local faith leaders and environmental groups, including the New Paltz Climate Action Coalition and Interfaith Climate Council, are planning a ‘Ring out for Climate’ on the eve of the UN Summit,” reads a statement made by President Donald Christain sent to members of the campus community. “On Saturday, Oct. 30, at 1 p.m., participants will ring church bells, play shofars, handheld instruments and drums, raise their voices and bang pots & pans as a call to action for the international community. The College’s Van Den Berg Clocktower will join the chorus in solidarity with this cause, and I encourage students, faculty and staff to participate as well.”

Weather permitting, there will be a Ring Out For Climate rally in front of Elting Library off campus beginning at 12:15 p.m. Brass band, “Tin Horn Uprising” will perform. Participants are encouraged to bring drums or other percussive devices to join in at 1 p.m.

Various other North American places but not limited to, Orange County, NY, Colorado, Toronto and British Columbia will also be chiming in. 

A group from the Student Christian Center and Episcopal Campus Ministry will be on Parker Quad near Parker Theater Starbucks from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. The group will be ringing bells and sharing some quick prayers. 

There will also be a meeting at the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center at 12:45 p.m. where several people, including Rabbi Bill Strongin will be blowing shofars. Those without shofars will also be invited to create noise in any way possible. 

The Reformed Church in New Paltz is going to ring the bell and kids are invited to ring the bell as well. The group is going to sing “If I Had a Hammer” – the lyrics of the song are “I got a hammer/ And I’ve got a bell/ And I’ve got a song to sing/ All over this land.” The Reformed Church minister invited the Episcopal, Lutheran, and Methodist pastors to participate and have kids come and ring the bells as well.

Additionally, The Association of English Cathedrals is urging cathedrals across the globe to join them in ringing their bells to signify their support of climate change advocacy and legislation. 

While many different houses of worship will be involved, Kidney emphasized “this is a non partisan event, an all partisan event and no partisan event. It’s an interdenominational no denominational event that is open to all earthlings, all earthlings are welcome and ought to be involved.”

“Yes, the churches are getting involved but they’re only one piece of the puzzle. So is the synagogue, the mosque, the temple, the indigenous people, myself, you know I tend to be a non fundamentalist Wiccan, it’s for everyone. Any, all, no religions, and campus is involved, the secular communities involved,” she added.

Any and all students are invited to participate by creating any kind of sound during the timeframe in order to show their support and spread noise about the cause.

“My hope is that this would really spread, which would be the goal of having it, on people’s minds,” said Jim O’Dowd, local activist.​​ “Most people don’t know what COP26 is … the big thing at the end of the road would be if it had some influence on the delegates to the convention.”

A 2021 study conducted by Pew Research Center found that countries such as Australia, New Zealand and many European nations polled said the U.S. is doing a “bad job” of dealing with global warming.

“I guess the impression through various straws in the wind, that the English have it more on their minds than perhaps we do here in America about climate change, and they certainly would know about the COP26 gathering in Glasgow, and I suspect there’s been a lot of advanced publicity about this bell ringing,” said Andrew Dalton, an executive member of the Hudson Valley Green Party, retired Waldorf teacher and lifelong peace and planet activist. 

The United States has a complicated relationship with climate change. Former President Donald Trump said in 2017 that the U.S. would withdraw from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. The country officially withdrew in November 2020. Shortly after taking office in January 2021, Biden stated intentions to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and the country rejoined the agreement by February 2021. 

The back and forth beliefs of the two Presidents made the issue of climate change to be less of a humanitarian crisis and more of a party issue. 

Examples in politics like this show the difficulty in decision making when it comes to politics surrounding the climate and why the twenty sixth Climate Change Conference being held.

“I think one of the things that’s going on is addiction. Addiction and denial, and I think the addiction is to money, and decision making power that comes from money, you know how it is when people are addicted, the substance is the only thing that matters. Right, I mean that’s what happens in the disease of addiction. So now, money is the only thing that matters to these money addicted people, and power, and the fame and the dopamine rush you get from being famous,” Kidney explained, using her degree in psychology. “I’m not saying across the board for every leader but I’m saying that’s a real common theme and that’s what we’re suffering from. We’re in a very, very toxic and dysfunctional system worldwide.”

While it is ultimately world leaders creating the legislation surrounding climate change, there is plenty that average people can do in their daily life to help make a difference in regards to climate change.

“It’s becoming more aware of taking personal responsibility like getting involved with local political groups to see politicians and corporate leaders and try to make the point that they, the listeners, think this is an important issue. There’s a growing concern with all of the environmental things that are happening and people are more aware of it but I’d like to see that turned up a notch or two,” said O’Dowd when asked what he hoped would come out of someone hearing the bells. 

“We hope that this bell ringing event is the start of something, not just a thing in itself that it’s the start of a real resurgence of interest and concern in the whole subject of climate change,” Dalton said.

For more info about the local Ring Outs for Climate! Contact Barbara Kidney at hudsonvalleygreenparty@gmail.com. You will NOT be placed on an email list, & your privacy will be protected.

To become involved in the environmental crisis, Kidney urged voters to vote “Yes” on Proposition two, which could guarantee air and clean water as a state constitutional right.

Those interested in taking action can also contact their electives who can be found on whitehouse.gov. 

“Get involved if you can in your local committee, whatever party you want – but research the parties and find out who’s about climate and who isn’t,” Kidney advises.