A decision on the Keystone XL tarsands pipeline will be one of the first tests for the new secretary of state John Kerry who called climate change a “life-threatening issue” of national security.
The tar sands in Alberta are causing irrevocable damage to the environment, destroying land and poisoning the water. The Keystone XL will increase extraction from the tar sands by 700,000 barrels a day and send it down to the Gulf of Mexico for processing and export. In addition to the fact that the pipeline jeopardizes the lands that it traverses and the aquifers that lie beneath it, 350.org’s Bill McKibben has repeatedly called the Keystone XL the fuse to the largest ‘carbon bomb’ we’ll ever know.
The rally was appropriately titled “Forward on Climate.” It called for the rejection of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and reducing carbon pollution from America’s dirty power plants. One of the most contentious issues concerns fracking for natural gas, which has been hailed as a bold step towards American energy independence. However, fracking is an environmentally hazardous process and natural gas is not clean energy.
Extreme weather including storms, droughts and wildfires are helping to build a growing base of support for action on climate change.
The rally supports the President’s stated intent to engage meaningful action in his second term. In both his inaugural addresses and his State of the Union speech, the President made it clear that he intends to act on climate change.
It is becoming increasingly clear that we must move away from fossil fuels and ramp up renewable energy. No single issue will have more impact on future generations than America’s response to the climate crisis. Contrary to Republican dogma, this issue trumps all other economic concerns.
A number of prominent speakers urged the President to take immediate action. Those at the rally heard from speakers like Bill McKibben, Michael Brune, Van Jones, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Maria Cardona, the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Chief Jackie Thomas of the Saik’uz First Nation, and Crystal Lameman of the Beaver Lake Cree First Nations.
One of the many groups in attendance was the League of Women Voters have taken a number of steps in past months to address the issue of climate change. One of those initiatives involves a letter campaign that resulted in almost 3,000 letters form grassroots organizations to the White House in support of action to combat climate change.
In conjunction with traditional social media, some new approaches are helping to move the climate agenda forward. To amplify the message of networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, 350.org has developed a new online initiative called Thunderclap that is helping to get the word out and get people involved. Another initiative involved the display of photos and messages of support on a giant screen at the rally outside the White House, showing photos and messages.
In response to a crisis that has already taken lives, affected millions and cost billions of dollars, citizens came together in unprecedented numbers to call for action. People are embracing the veracity of climate science and demanding that we act to protect our environment. It is not only scientists that are calling for urgent action, leading public health experts, military officials, heads of state and renowned religious leaders have come together to call for domestic action and international leadership on climate change.
The Forward on Climate Rally clearly demonstrated that there is popular support for action on climate change. Up to now the US has failed future generations, but is not too late and now is the time to act. The Obama administration cannot ignore the call. It’s time for the US to take the lead on climate change because a growing number of people are coming to the realization that the costs of inaction are simply unacceptable.
© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
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