time to actually listen

to native americans, after 525 years

~ bill mckibben
grist online, 8/22/16

dakota access protest by joe catron, flickr

dakota access protest
photo by joe catron, flickr

The center of the fight for our planet’s future shifts. But this week it’s on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation straddling the border between North Dakota and South Dakota. There, tribal members have been, well, standing like a rock in the way of the planned Dakota Access Pipeline, a huge hose for collecting oil out of the Bakken shale and carrying it off to the Midwest and the Gulf where it can be made into gasoline.

The standoff has been picturesque and dramatic, featuring American Indians on horseback. But mostly it’s been brave and lonely, far from most journalists and up against the same forces that have made life hard for Indigenous Peoples for centuries.

The U.S. Army, for instance. It’s the Army Corps of Engineers that last month granted Energy Transfer Corporation the permit necessary to start construction near the reservation, despite a petition signed by 150,000 people, and carried—on foot—by young people from the reservation all the way to Washington. That would be the same U.S. Army that—well, google “Wounded Knee.” Or “Custer.” “Washita River.” “Pine Ridge.”

That’s not really ancient history, not any of it. It’s the reason that Native Americans live confined to bleak reservations in vast stretches of the country that no one thought were good for much of anything else. But those areas—ironically enough—now turn out to be essential for the production or transportation of the last great stocks of hydrocarbons, the ones whose combustion scientists tell us will take us over the edge of global warming.

And if former generations of the U.S. Army made it possible to grab land from Native people, then this largely civilian era of the Army Corps is making it easy to pollute and spoil what little we left them. As the corporation said over the weekend, it was “constructing this pipeline in accordance with applicable laws, and the local, state and federal permits and approvals we have received.”

But it’s not constructing it in accordance with the laws of physics. July was the hottest month ever recorded on our planet, and likely, say scientists, the hottest month since the beginning of human civilization. And in any event, those “applicable laws, permits, and approvals” are merely the cover for the latest plunder.

A spill from this pipeline would pollute the Missouri River, just as spills in recent years have done irreparable damage to the Kalamazoo and Yellowstone rivers. And that river is both the spiritual and economic lifeblood of the Standing Rock Reservation, one of the poorest census tracts in the entire country.

Forget, for a minute, the threat to the reservation, and forget, for a minute, the endless history of unfairness. Think instead of what it might mean if the Army Corps, or the Obama administration, simply said: “You know what, you’re right. We don’t need to build this pipeline.”

It would mean that after 525 years, someone had actually paid attention to the good sense that Native Americans have been offering almost from the start. It’s not that American Indians are ecological saints—no human beings are. But as the first people who saw what Europeans did to a continent when given essentially free rein, they were the appalled witnesses to everything from the slaughter of the buffalo to the destruction of the great Pacific salmon runs.

And in recent years they have been the vanguard of the movement to slow down climate change. Why did the Keystone XL pipeline not get built? Above all because Indigenous Peoples on both sides of the border took the lead in a battle that stretched over a decade. Why did Canadian leaders fail in their efforts to replace it with the Northern Gateway pipeline? Because tribes and bands across the west of that country made it clear they could not be bought off. Why will the easiest-to-access deep-water port on the Pacific coast not be turned into the country’s biggest new coal export terminal? Because the Lummi Nation at Cherry Point joined with protesters across the region to say no. This same dynamic is at play around the world, where Indigenous Peoples from the Amazon to the coral atolls of the Pacific are doing more than anyone else to slow down the grinding destruction of our earth.

One has the ominous sense of grim history about to be reenacted at Standing Rock. North Dakota authorities—who are in essence a subsidiary of the fossil fuel industry—have insisted that the Sioux are violent, that they have “pipe bombs.” There are rumors about calling in the National Guard. The possibility for renewed tragedy is very real.

But the possibility for a new outcome is there as well. The Army Corps of Engineers might back off. The president might decide, as he did with Keystone, that this pipeline would “exacerbate” climate change and hence should be reviewed more carefully. We might, after five centuries, actually listen to the only people who’ve ever successfully inhabited this continent for the long term.

If you’re interested in joining the fight but can’t get to North Dakota, there’s a rally on Aug. 24 from 1:00–5:00 p.m. in Washington, D.C., outside the federal court that’s considering challenges to the permits, at 333 Constitution Ave NW.

Bill McKibben is Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College, and a founder of 350.org. He is a member of Grist’s board of directors.

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here’s posting it does just that

this changes everything capitalism vs the climate by naomi klein

THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING
Capitalism vs The Climate
by Naomi Klein

Gotta apologize, friends of Ma, outta here this long. Can’t let it go any longer. Much of these days for wifeling, helping her recover from deep surgery. Deeper than ever we saw coming.

No, can’t leave my readers alone, having just finished Naomi’s latest –One Great Work– page by page since Sept’s Peoples Climate March, ideally released just then. Powerful, humanly – scientifically – masterly gathered. How ’bout you ? Read it by now yourself, shemovesme friend ? Hope so. If not, do get right to it. You’ll soon know why.

Wifeling hears me go on & on about the book, concluding author must be something like another Rachel Carson. Clearly Rachel herself would be cheering. Naomi’s husband Avi Lewis is making TCE into a movie. Bravo, does it ever deserve it ! But please, reader, don’t wait for it.

No, no other words for it -for what we’re facing on this beautiful planet: TCE adds up to my most basic + my most advanced education for our Ma. Last few days I’m mulling just how to write it up . . . where to start, my pages & pages of underscoring nearly as many as Naomi’s originals. Seems I’m not alone at such a pen juncture. Rob Nixon started out with a similar baffle – here’s his own NY TIMES REVIEW 11/6/14

While we’re at it, if you’re looking for more reading clues, click here for another fine interview – bk review – auth review – pub excerpt at YES MAGAZINETHE GUARDIANTHE NATIONSIMON & SCHUSTER

And speaking of the Times, here’s TCE’s top 20 non-fiction rating story -just #12 in its 3rd wk, #17 4th wk following release. And that’s it; since then gone. Please Ma buddies – let’s go get it !

OK back to those pages, perhaps now far enuf away to begin hearing what sticks ( as if this aging memory of mine has anything like a last word ! )

First off, Naomi, it’s your sharp, energetic, forceful approach, creatively aligned for the best of reader engagement. I’m right with you from page one. You do get right to it, those first pages blatantly topside vs. easing your way up any ladder of speel for our planet.

We need a Marshall Plan for the Earth
– p 12

This well known target ( of world climate meetings ) has more to do with minimizing economic disruption than with protecting the greatest number of people.
– p 20

Before long, it’s so evident – what a journalist ! Your research – your energy – such non-stop probing, all taking us to the very source of Ma’s debacle – unfettered corporate ideology of the market. Oh my gosh, our turn to lose what we thought we’d won in that long, cool thrash of communism so-called vs democracy so-called.

Climate change detonates the ideological scaffolding on which contemporary conservatism rests. A belief system that vilifies collective action and declares war on all corporate regulation and all things public simply cannot be reconciled with a problem that demands collective action on an unprecedented scale and a dramatic reigning in of the market forces that are largely responsible for creating and deepening the crisis.
– p 48

Talk about those corp deniers. You go right to it – to them, starting your book in person at their very conference. Then to the very ones -who doesn’t think so- right with us, the biggest of our environmental friends, their size attributable -wow- to those same fossil giants.

The Nature Conservancy has been in the oil and gas business ( itself ) for a decade and a half. That this could happen in the age of climate change points to a painful reality behind the environmental movement’s catastrophic failure to effectively battle the economic interests behind our soaring emissions: large parts of the movement aren’t actually fighting those interests -they have merged with them.
– p 208

But nowhere is it about anything like hate, as my own lens knows so well, this most authentic movement for our mother. It comes from the most natural love of her beauty, you two remind us . . .

I believe that the more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.
– quoting Rachel Carson herself ( 1954 ); TCE p 355

And speaking of our mother and what’s most authentic, the one time you seem to abandon a journalistic stand-off here you are connecting our planet’s fertility mission to your very own !

Finally what sticks is who you tab as earth’s best activists, known in your land as America’s first-nation folk, not only for their most natural affinity to our mother, but -admittedly most surprisingly- for such very real leadership from taking on their own land debacles to exiting courtrooms the winners. No wonder they were the very ones leading the rest of us down Broadway.

These victories add up: they have kept unaccountable millions of tons of carbon and other greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. Whether or not climate change has been a primary motivator, the local movements behind them deserve to be recognized as unsung carbon keepers, who, by protecting their beloved forests, mountains, rivers, and coastlines, are helping to protect all of us.
– p 371

Naomi, I have to say in these final days of mine, presence at last is taking over. Here maine-coon Abby nestles beside me, dawn by smiling dawn, life itself so brightly in place, past any clouded yesterday. So it needs be.

I’ve always looked to Canada as America’s grounded northern conscience. Now, even as tarsands pulls your country down our lowest of corp undertakings, here you bring us home

to what’s happening, gifted planetwise;
to what’s so needed for our here & now.

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save the date

this time for us all . . .

( click on announcements for details )

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check your bills

. . . And see just how much big oil’s costing us
bill moyers interviews bill mckibben on state dept’s move, keystone XL

time’s up, mr prez

up to you at last to make that stand for mother earth

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ma, numbers of us in north america came together last night
to remind him of those so very fluent promises for your needs & ours
numbers of your loyal folk discovered one another here in orlando

all of us called to draw the line on filthy tar sands oil
its shattering impact on air-land-water, threatening movement across our land
past everything disastrous we’ve come to learn from life based on fossil fuel

time at last to move forward with saving mother planet
we need to get together at last, find a new way to live here
thanks to joining hands example & hard work set by these family members

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read CANADIAN MACLEAN’S NEWS MAGAZINE’S TERRIFIC IN-DEPTH 1/27/14 ARTICLE by Luiza Savage – The Untold Story of Keystone

thank you, fellow committed earthlings all

Forward on climate, 2/17/13 DC rally

airborne over climateride california

On occasion of today’s major DC climate change rally