The morning after the President actually discussed climate change in the State of the Union address, a group of prominent people are heading to the White House to risk arrest in a call on the President to live up to those words on the need to act on climate change. The Keystone XL pipeline, in and of itself, isn’t enough to ‘cook the planet’ — it is, however, a key tool to foster expanded production of Canadian Tar Sands. And, along with failures to reduce coal consumption, that expanded production could be enough (even without considering all other issues) to hammer in the last nail on the potential for humanity to avert catastrophic climate chaos.
- Jeremy Grantham — an excellent financial analyst and advisor — is a powerful symbol of mounting business and financial concerns. [Update: just learned that Grantham will be there but will not risk arrest although his daughter will …]
- Rev Lennox Yearwood, Jr, is the head of the Hip Hop Caucus and is representative of youth, religious, and the rainbow reality of concerns over climate change.
- Julian Bond — truly a civil rights legend — links climate change issues to the rich legacy of our nation’s struggles for civil justice.
- Darryl Hannah provides an example to our other ‘stars’ about the need to put their celebrity on the line and in the struggle to avert Climate Disruption.
- Randy Thompson — a Nebraska rancher — provides a powerful symbol of American farmers’ growing realization of how climate disruption is already impacting their lives and of how promoting fossil foolish development is simply, well, outright foolish.
- Michael Brune — the Executive Director of the Sierra Club — is a strong symbol of how seriously traditional environmental organizations are taking the struggle against climate change and against Keystone XL
As for the last, the Sierra Club has never authorized civil disobedience in its 120 year history … until now.
2012 was the hottest year on record, half the country is in severe drought, and Superstorm Sandy just flooded the greatest city in the world–New York. A global crisis unfolds before our eyes and immediate action is required. President Obama has the executive authority to make a significant and immediate impact on carbon pollution, and he can begin by saying no to Big Oil by rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
Civil disobedience is the response of ordinary people to extraordinary injustices. Americans have righted the wrongs of our society – slavery, child labor, suffrage, segregation, and inequality for gays and immigrant workers – with creative nonviolent resistance.
Climate change threatens the health and security of all Americans, and action proportional to the problem is required–now.
Very simply, the Keystone XL pipeline is not in America’s national interest. Enabling expanded tar sands exploitation is not in humanity’s interest. Last night, President Obama said:
But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change.
Mr. President, with a swipe of a pen, here is a chance for you to “do more to combate climate change.”
You “must do more”.
I appreciated science writer Greg Laden’s commentary:
It is time, apparently. This is a time when more of the money that is out there is in the hands of a very small number of people and corporations, and many of these people and corporations are paying to maintain the status quo, and that status quo involves keeping our economy, or society, our species firmly planted on a track leading to the edge of a very tall cliff. Not the fiscal cliff or some other cliff, but the climate cliff. Science, common sense, and basic moral responsibility tell us that we need to change direction and now, even the President of the United States is telling us that. But very little has been done, compared to what could have been done, to slow down and eventually reverse direction towards what is clearly a major disaster, or really, multiple disasters which will compete with each other to see which of many bad scenarios ends up being the worst scenario.
So, people are taking to the streets.
The letter from those risking arrest:
We’re here today to show the depth of our resolve that President Obama take immediate, decisive action against climate change—to show that if the president leads, the vast majority of Americans will rally behind him. We’re not here today to protest the president, we are here to encourage and support him. We lived through horrors of Superstorm Sandy, the Midwest drought, wildfires, and the hottest year on record: we know in our bones that the time has come to do more than we have, and all that we can.
The president can’t work miracles by himself. An obstructionist Congress stands in the way of progress and innovation. But President Obama has the executive authority and the mandate from the American people to stand up to the fossil fuel industry, and to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline right now.
And we’re here to show something else—that the movement for a clean energy revolution is a broad and powerful one. In 2011 we were moved by the 1,253 Americans who went jail to protest Keystone in the biggest civil disobedience action in many years in this country. Today we are 50 people at the White House representing millions of Americans in every state, in every community. Today we risk arrest because a global crisis unfolds before our eyes. We have the solutions to this climate crisis. We have a moral obligation to stand stand for immediate, bold action to solve climate disruption. We can do it, and we will.
UPDATE: 17 Feb 2013:
Please take the moments to watch the video from last week’s civil disobedience action in front of the White House.
And, call on the White House to move #ForwardOnClimate