Scenes from Forward on Climate Rally

Keystone XL Pipeline: The fuse to a carbon bomb

Trans Canada Keystone Oil Pipeline
Photo by Shannon Ramos

What’s so important about the Keystone XL Pipeline? Why is it being called the fuse to a carbon bomb?

The key to Keystone XL is that it could transport almost exactly the amount of carbon needed to put us beyond the point of no return–when man-made climate change becomes irreversible.

The Keystone XL Pipeline is the conduit for the tar sands oil produced in the northwest regions of Canada. Fully harvested, the tar sands–besides having 12% higher carbon dioxide emissions than other sources of petroleum–would produce about one trillion metric tons of emissions.

Putting one trillion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere would produce a 2-degree Celsius increase in average global temperatures.

This just so happens to be the tipping point:

Two degrees [Celsius] is the maximum acceptable figure adopted by the European Union as a manageable level of warming, based on IPCC findings, beyond which it becomes unlikely that serious negative effects can be avoided.

The decision to develop tar sands and construct the Keystone XL Pipeline is a conscious decision to put ourselves beyond the tipping point. The oil from Canadian tar sands is a carbon bomb, and the Keystone XL Pipeline is the fuse. If the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline goes forward, we’ve knowingly lit the fuse.

 

Jill Stein at Forward on Climate Rally: Keystone XL is part of Obama’s “all-of-the-above” strategy

Jill Stein at the Forward on Climate Rally (Photo by @FracSandBoom)
Jill Stein at the Forward on Climate Rally (Photo by @FracSandBoom)

At the Forward on Climate Rally, Keith Wrightson interviews Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.

She’s certain that Pres. Obama will allow the Keystone XL to go forward. “It’s writing on the wall,” she said. “It’s part of his all-of-the-above strategy.”

She urges people concerned about climate to exercise civil disobedience not only “in the streets,” but in the voting booth as well, quoting Frederick Douglass: “Power concedes nothing without a demand.”

Stein and her running mate Cheri Honkala committed civil disobedience at Hofstra University in October, when they tried to enter the site of the second presidential debate. They were handcuffed for eight hours.

Later in October Stein was again arrested while attempting to resupply protesters in Texas camping out in trees to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline.

Post-election, Stein still seems determined. “It’s important that we lay down the agenda–let’s have political change instead of climate change.”

The Green Party has a “Green Deal,” which she says will address the “climate emergency and economic emergency [for] people, peace and climate.”

The plan includes rolling back military spending to year 2000 levels and halting the Wall Street bailouts, instead “baling out communities and homeowners.”

Forward on Climate: Activists to draw line in the sand on climate issues

People have been pouring into Washington, DC for what is expected to be the largest ever rally in the U.S. drawing attention to the issue of climate change.

The weather is blustery out there for activists–highs in the mid-30’s with winds gusting up to 40 mph.

The last mass protest around climate change was four years ago, just after Barack Obama was sworn in the first time. 12,000 people, mostly college students, came to Washington, DC for a three-day action:

Organizers called a grassroots lobbying drive on Monday “the biggest lobbying day on climate and energy” in the country’s history as they enlisted some 4,000 students to visit nearly every congressional office. And later that day, in what activists dubbed “the largest mass civil disobedience on climate” in the U.S., some 2,500 people blockaded the gates of the Capitol Power Plant, which burns coal to provide heat to the senators’ and representatives’ offices, a symbol of the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels.

At least 20,000 participants are expected today.

This time a high priority will be to persuade Pres. Obama to block Keystone XL, the export pipeline which has been called “the fuse to North America’s biggest carbon bomb.”

Cool Revolution will be making updates throughout the day here and on Twitter (@cool_revolution). DC Media Group will be providing full coverage of the event–go to dcmediagroup.info for all livestream feeds, twitter streams and photos, as well as the Facebook page.

UPDATE 3:30pm: As the march heads from the White House back to the Monument, organizers put crowd count at 50,000.

UPDATE 5:00pm: Huffington Post estimates the crowd at 40,000.

“Resurgence of grassroot activism” inspires Sierra Club leaders to adopt civil disobedience tactics

Michael Brune of Sierra Club and Bill McKibben of 350.org prepare for arrest

For the first time in its 120-year history, the environmental group Sierra Club engaged in a civil disobedience action.

Allison Chin, President of the Sierra Club Board of Directors, and Executive Director Michael Brune lined up in front of the White House to be arrested for obstruction along with 46 others activists. Many of them were also leaders of fellow environmental advocacy organizations, such as Rainforest Action Network, Earthworks, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace and 350.org.

“We have joined the ranks of visionaries of the past and present to engage in civil disobedience, knowing that the issue at hand is so critical, it compels the strongest defensible action,” said Brune.

And he believes that it has been successful. “We’re on the cusp of a clean energy revolution in the U.S.,” he said. “We have a movement of people who are fighting for clean energy, and they’re winning.”

More from interview with Michael Brune:

On global warming denial:

I think what’s behind it is fear. We have built an economy that is based on fossil fuels, and people don’t know what the world can look like when we move off of those fuels. People who deny climate change obviously haven’t looked at the science, they haven’t had a candid, honest, thoughtful conversation with someone who has studied this issue, and they fear for what a transition will mean for their lives.

So what we say to them is that the clean energy solutions that we’ve been talking are being put into place right now. Iowa gets almost 25% of its power just from wind. South Dakota the same. California will soon get 30% of its power from solar and wind.

We’re just getting started. We’ve quintupled the amount of solar energy that’s being produced in the us in just the last four years. Wind energy has doubled in the last four years. We know in our generation we’re going to build an economy based on power that’s clean and renewable, and it will put more people to work. It will increase our quality of life at the same time.

Is global warming at the point of no return?

No, I don’t think so. I think that we are on the cusp of a clean energy revolution in the United States. We’re seeing a resurgence of grassroots activism that’s stopped a 175 coal plants from being built, that is exposing the dangers of fracking, that has slowed mountain-top removal in Appalachia, that’s secured the retirement of 137 existing coal-fired power plants. So we have a movement of people who are fighting for clean energy, they’re winning, and we’re building momentum.

On President Obama’s State of the Union address:

I thought that they [his remarks] were largely pretty good. To have a president speak forcefully and candidly about the science behind climate change and connecting the extreme weather events that we saw with the opportunity for action is a powerful thing. And what we really need to see of course is for the President to follow up his Inauguration speech and the State of the Union last night with strong action to stop arctic drilling, to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline, to stop mountain-top removal,
and to invest in solar and wind with all of his might and ambition instead.