(Article changed on February 17, 2013 at 20:23)
by Pam Burbul
(Washington, DC 1/17) The nation's capital hosted over 40,000 citizens assembled to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. The crowd urged President Obama to bring to reality his lofty words on climate change in the inaugural address just days ago. By stopping the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, the president would deal a blow to the rogue energy companies who, by their actions, are ready to sacrifice everything to transport oil from Alberta, Canada's tar sands, across the United States, for refinement in Houston, Texas and shipment to China.
The broader concern of the gathered citizens and march sponsors, 350.org, and the Sierra Club, represents the existential issue of our time. We need to get very real, very soon on the manifest threat to the earth's climate posed by fossil fuels and the threat to the human species embodied by insane ventures like the Canadian tar sands project. The verdict of science is clear. As leading climate scientist James E. Hansen said, the full exploitation of tar sands oil and use by China, or any nation, is "game over for the climate."
Citizens gathered at
the Washington Monument, where speakers outlined the last chance
scenario for reversing climate change. While nowhere near the entire
solution, stopping the Keystone XL pipeline offers the biggest win in
the war for survival. Bill McKibben,
founder of 350.org, opened the program with the demand that President
Obama live up to his campaign rhetoric and stop the pipeline from
crossing the Canadian border. That action would devastate the corporate
partnership of Enbridge, TransCanada, and the other vultures seeking to
profit at the expense of everyone else. Michael Brune, executive
director of the Sierra Club, argued that the coal and oil industries are
on the run. He cited energy use estimates for Texas, Colorado, and
other states that show 30% of energy needs will be met by alternative
fuels. Brune chained himself to the White House fencing February 14 in
the Sierra Club's first sanctioned act of civil disobedience in 120 years.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) told the crowd that this is our time to stop the tragedy of allowing the filthiest energy source in the world to cross our borders. There were representatives from the Latino and Africa American communities plus officials from Canada's First Nations peoples in Alberta and British Columbia. Chief Jackie Thomas and Crystal Lamemon spoke eloquently about the need for cross cultural, multinational alliances. The struggles of native peoples in Alberta near the tar sands mining and the British Columbia transit path were graphically detailed.
The 40,000 gathered then marched from the monument to the White House, where they gathered and sent their message to the president -- do not approve this pipeline. The most common chant from the crowd was, Hey Obama, we don't want no climate drama.
by Pam Burbul
Dangers Posed by the Full Exploitation of Canadian Tar Sands and Other High Risk Fossil Fuel Resources
"Canada's tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen [asphalt], contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history ." James E. Hansen, PhD, head of NASA Institute for Space Studies
The least controversial estimate of human tolerance for increases in carbon dioxide was set at 565 billion additional GtCO2 (Gigatons of carbon dioxide) released into the atmosphere. Once that limit is exceeded, the climate will be sufficiently damaged to produce a regular parade of climate catastrophes. The crises will be more frequent and intense due to storms, floods, droughts, and the loss of arable farm land, famine, and disease. These calamities will accelerate human suffering and death. The shortages in food and the disruptions to economies are the essential ingredients for riots, civil war, regional, and world wars.
The general consensus is that there remains oil, coal and other fuel deposits that if burned would emit 2,795 GtCO2 into the atmosphere. That's five times the outside limit leading to global disaster.
These are not controversial claims. In fact, the limit of 500 million tons of additional CO2 in the atmosphere may be too high. Without any question whatsoever, we face a reckoning with the chemistry and physics of climate change. For a more in depth review, see these reports. (reference?)
There are climate change deniers that challenge reality. Their work doesn't make it into scientific journals because the deniers are not doing science; thus they lack evidence to justify their claims. They are part of a well-funded public relations campaign to raise doubts about the clear and present danger facing people everywhere. These pseudo scientists publish in an online Potemkin Village of energy-industry-sponsored association journals that, for all appearances, look just like real scientific journals. Bigh quality graphics and environmentally friendly trade names cannot cover the poverty of evidence and arguments served up in this toxic brew of disinformation.
The relentless effort to put lipstick on the pig of climate change denial is aided by the major media organizations which claim there are two sides to every story. Really? Following this logic, we would have seen stories like, "Hurricane Katrina - Tragic disaster or chance to form lasting relationships?" or "Famine in Africa - Lost lives or population control?"
This president was first elected with the promise of ending the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and reviving a collapsed economy with a true unemployment rate of over 20% (when you actually count those unemployed). Many expected that the crooks that collapsed the economy through their reckless scheming would face legal action or, at the very least, stop receiving bonuses with our tax dollars for their greed and stupidity. We all know how well that worked out.