September 18, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Day to move beyond
do join us
wherever you are
around the world
August 30, 2011 § Leave a Comment
in so many words, there you have it: thanks bill!
that jail time is the better part of this argument . . .
August 25, 2011 § Leave a Comment
NATIONOFCHANGE / OP-ED
by George Zornick
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 / Nation of Change
Progressive Journalism For Positive Action
Originally published Monday, 22 August 2011 in The Nation.
Copyright © The Nation – distributed by Agence Global.
see also KEYSTONE XL PROTESTORS UP AGAINST FADED INTEREST IN US CLIMATE EFFORT, Elizabeth McGowan in SolveClimateNews, Aug 24, 2011
Civil Disobedience on Tar Sands Begins Outside the White House
More than seventy activists were arrested at the north gates of the White House Saturday during a protest against the Keystone XL pipeline
The largest act of civil disobedience by environmentalists in decades began outside the White House this morning, as more than seventy activists were arrested at the north gates during a protest against the Keystone XL pipeline, which if approved by the administration would carry 900,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
The activists, who sat down at the gates at 11 am holding large banners reading “Climate change is not in our national interest,” were warned three times by US Park Police to move along, and were handcuffed and removed after they refused. More than 2,000 people have pledged to be arrested outside the White House every day until September 3, in daily installments of seventy-five to 100 people.
The Keystone Pipeline would carry oil gouged from the “tar sands” of Alberta—areas where soil is thick with bitumen, which can be refined into synthetic crude oil. The process is environmentally devastating. Parts of Alberta have already been ravaged by the extraction, and the refining process involved creates twice the greenhouse gases as producing a normal barrel of crude.￼
Since the pipeline would cross an international border, the State Department has jurisdiction and is completing an environmental assessment of the project, which could be released this week. The White House will have ninety days to decide whether to grant a permit for the pipeline. The grassroots group 350. org, which includes many Nation writers, has called for a campaign of nonviolent direct action aimed at persuading the administration to deny the permit.
The Alberta tar sands represent the second-largest repository of oil in the world, and climate scientists are horrified with the prospect of pumping that much carbon into the atmosphere. Environmentalist Bill McKibben, who led today’s action, noted that if all of the oil were extracted overnight it would increase the carbon in the earth’s atmosphere from 393 parts per million to 550 parts per million—a devastating increase. NASA climate scientist James Hansen recently wrote that since phasing existing carbon emissions out is already an enormous task, “if the tar sands are thrown into the mix, it is essentially game over.”
Beyond the climate concerns, there’s the issue of pipeline safety—Keystone XL would traverse the entire country, from Montana to the Gulf of Mexico. Anyone unconcerned with potential pipeline failures should note the recent incident underneath the Yellowstone River, where an Exxon pipeline ruptured and spilled over 1,000 barrels of crude into the river.
There are, of course, massive financial interests behind the construction of Keystone XL. Tar sands commercials are ubiquitous on television, particularly during news programming. The industry, led by the American Petroleum Institute, has launched an enormous advertising and lobbying push.
McKibben rallied the activists in Lafayette Park moments before the action began, and noted the enormous amount of money on the other side of the fight. “There is enormous pressure coming down on the White House from the fossil fuels industry. These are the richest people. They are the most powerful people on our planet. They usually win,” McKibben said. “We have to find a different currency to work in. Our currency today and for the next two weeks is our bodies and our creativity and our spirit. And that’s all we’ve got to put up against all that money, and we will find out if it’s enough.”
Since Congress is not involved in this decision, the White House is the decisive chokepoint for the Keystone XL project—Obama doesn’t have to tangle with industry-friendly members of Congress. McKibben told reporters in Lafayette Park that “it is really the environmental test for Barack Obama, really in the course of his first term.”
Many of the activists wore buttons from the Obama 2008 presidential campaign, which climaxed in Denver at the Democratic National Convention, where Obama famously marked the moment “when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” McKibben predicted that “if Barack Obama mans up and says ‘no’ to this thing, it will send a surge of electricity through all of the people who voted for him three years ago. It’ll be the reminder of why we were so enamored with this guy in 2008.”
When the arrests began, the activists—including McKibben, FireDogLake founder Jane Hamsher, Lt. Dan Choi, and Vermont Law School professor Gus Speth—repeated chants of “Hey hey, ho ho, Keystone XL’s got to go” and “Ain’t no power like the power of the sun, because the power of the sun don’t stop.”
They were handcuffed with zip ties, led one-by-one into a tent set up by the US Park Police, processed and loaded into the back of a large van as tourists watched. The arresting officers gave the activists water over the course of the two-hour process, which took place in the sweltering late-summer heat of Washington. Several activists noted that if Keystone XL isn’t stopped, the hottest weather is surely yet to come.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
ABOUT GEORGE ZORNICK
George grew up in Buffalo, NY and holds a B.A. in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Prior to joining The Nation, George was Senior Reporter/Blogger for ThinkProgress.org. He worked as a researcher for Michael Moore’s SiCKO and as an Associate Producer on “The Media Project” on the Independent Film Channel. His work has been published in The Los Angeles Times, Media Matters, and The Buffalo News.
Copyright © The Nation – distributed by Agence Global.
August 19, 2011 § Leave a Comment
. . . Making a life on a tough new planet
BY BILL McKIBBEN
coming from you that means something
farming like you write
with verve, all you got
and you, bill
writing as you act
i bumped into you only recently at planetary 350.org
your going-on-half-century alerts now filling in
just the 101 for someone playing catch-up on climate change
well said too, kind of read i can’t put down
you take us by the hand, shake us to our boots
then steer us to a place we can get to
where to begin . . . ?
nowhere better than where you do
from the top: what is this place we’ve fashioned?
across our blink of earth history
whatever it is sure ain’t anything like it was
best rename the planet on which we now find ourselves
to not confuse it with where we grew up
that different, yes
like what i came across just yesterday about homo sapiens himself
thanks to australian science writer JULIAN CRIBB
not much left of sapiens given what we’ve done here
better to call him something else ( cribb won’t say )
to not disassociate entirely, how about homo transitus?
as in, on-our-way/definitely-not-there-yet
it wouldn’t take much to go farther
you don’t go there bill; i won’t either
but that doesn’t keep you from the facts
the sheer math as you call it
things lurking at the periphery of consciousness
when added all up now astound
you get right to it in four sections
starting with that shocking inventory
of a new world, pulling no punches
the damage is done, this climate’s already changed
or as you put it we’re like the guy
who smoked for forty years then had a stroke
he doesn’t smoke anymore
but the left side of his body doesn’t work either
so how to make the necessary transition to this new place
in the time we’ve let go by?
more shock awaits in section two, high tide
definitely not a matter of more of the same
need to dampen our intuitive sense
that the future will resemble the past
our standard issue optimism
that the future will be ever easier
eaarth is an uphill planet now
gravity pulls stronger
more friction than we’re used to
have to work harder to get where you’re going
you cite the club of rome’s landmark study of 1972
limits to growth: it circled the world back then
more important those unheeded dire warnings
have largely come to pass
so then the end to civilization as we know it?
per jerrod diamond’s nifty observations of collapse
those poor mayans, anasazis, easter islanders?
hopefully not: section three, backing off
comes down to a matter of growing up you say
getting over this race-horse fixation of ours
how about a long hard look at something sturdier
say a belgian workhorse
so let’s turn a deaf ear to massive, global, hi-growth
tune into something human, local, steady
we’ve let our energy & food systems grow “too big to fail”
just as we did our banks
the answer is the same
smaller, closer to home
you take us through our own history
and much local geography
notably your own vermont
right down to the friendly local farmer’s market
fastest growing part of our food economy
where we humans have always shopped
where we acquire gossip and good cheer along with our calories
even -imagine!- to circulating a fully local currency
all, a mighty long way from the 5,000-mile straw
thru which we suck hydrocarbons from the persian gulf
your last section outlines practical steps ahead
pointedly titled lightly, carefully, gracefully
about mastering the essentials of our survival
in food, energy, and the internet
you show us right down to the furrow
how that can work
energy too needs to go local
once we conserve how we use it
as for the internet
here’s our deus ex machina
appearing just in time
to make our next evolution bearable
and then there’s your 350.org
most widespread day of political action
in the planet’s history
as you quote cnn
not content with words
you are moving us
as this poor mother moves you
bill, i can hear her thank you for both
July 15, 2011 § Leave a Comment
June 28, 2011 § Leave a Comment