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Historic Tar-Sands Action at Obama’s Door
an article by Amy Goodman, Truthdig (abridged)

For the first time in its 120-year history, the Sierra Club engaged in civil disobedience, the day after President Barack Obama gave his 2013 State of the Union address. The group joined scores of others protesting the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which awaits a permitting decision from the Obama administration. The president made significant pledges to address the growing threat of climate change in his speech. But it will take more than words to save the planet from human- induced climate disruption, and a growing, diverse movement is directing its focus on the White House to demand meaningful action.



click on photo to enlarge

The Keystone XL pipeline is especially controversial because it will allow the exploitation of Canadian tar sands, considered the dirtiest oil source on the planet. One of the leading voices raising alarm about climate change, James Hansen, the director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, wrote of the tar sands in The New York Times last year, “If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.” New research by nonprofit Oil Change International indicates that the potential tar-sands impact will be even worse than earlier believed. Because the proposed pipeline crosses the border between the U.S. and Canada, its owner, TransCanada Corp., must receive permission from the U.S. State Department.

Among those arrested outside the White House was Julian Bond, former chair of the NAACP. Bond said, “The threat to our planet’s climate is both grave and urgent. ... I am proud today to stand before my fellow citizens and declare, ‘I am willing to go to jail to stop this wrong.’ The environmental crisis we face today demands nothing less.” . . .

In his State of the Union address, Obama gave hope to those concerned with global warming, saying, “For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. ... We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science—and act before it’s too late.”

This Presidents Day weekend will see what is expected to be the largest climate-change protest in history, called Forward on Climate. One hundred thirty-five organizations are participating, including the Sierra Club, the Indigenous Environmental Network and 350.org. The Sierra Club is one of the world’s largest and most powerful environmental organizations. Its decision to participate in civil disobedience signals a major escalation in the movement to stem climate change, reviving the words of the Sierra Club’s first president, John Muir, who wrote in 1892, “Hoping that we will be able to do something for wildness and make the mountains glad.” . . .

DISCUSSION

Question(s) related to this article:


Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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Latest reader comment:

[responding to CPNN article The film 'Demain', a manifesto?

Yes initiatives from the grassroots are important and necessary which will have a direct impact on the present and the future. But there are governments like India which are conscious of over exploitation of the earth’s resources and are taking suitable policy measures and also taking legal action against the exploiters.

We must emphasize public transportation and reduce our dependence on individual cars even though the auto industry will not like this.

Otherwise it is not demain but aujourdhui — the problems are there for us to see.


This report was posted on February 16, 2013.