"Forward on Climate" logo by Sierra Club
The largest citizen march against climate change, more than 35,000 people, was held in Washington, DC, this afternoon. One-hundred fifty busloads and 168 partner organizations contributed to the event, held to protest against the hottest year in U.S. history and the largest hurricane, among other natural disasters suffered in 2012 here and throughout the world--"the worst ever," according to Bill McKibben, president and founder of 350.org. Carbon standards must be specified for polluting industries by the EPA, for the sake of the future of the planet and of all of us, even the "one percent."
NRDC trustee and president of Rebuild the Dream Van Jones referred to the dire situation as "the biggest game humanity has ever played." Wind power and solar energy were specified to be energy sources above the ground, far preferable to those beneath it.
The main focus was the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, being built to convey tar sands from western Canada to New Orleans and ultimately to other ports throughout this country, at a huge environmental cost. "Tar sands are the dirtiest fuel in the history of the planet," said Van Jones, polluting the air twice as much as does conventional petrol. The refining process is far more complex and the quality of the fuel inferior.
"banner 2 17/13? by Marta Steele
Steel tunnels, already built by investors, are so poorly constructed that tar sands leak through cracks into the earth and aquifers, and thus to drinking water and natural water formations, with hideous consequences for residents of the affected terrain. The purpose of the tunnels is to convey the toxic substance for import once it is refined into diesel and other products here, profiting a minute percentage of the population--say the one percent, at the risk of the rest of the inhabitants of both the United States and western Canada.
President Obama can outlaw further construction and implementation of the project by executive order, since he could not get legislation passed in Congress, given the partisan divided in the House of Representatives, which is burdened by a Republican majority that often votes as an extremely right-wing bloc.
One speaker after another implored the president, echoed by chants and cheers from the huge audience, to honor the commitment he made in his State of the Union speech this year. ("For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change.") The project was referred to as "the most fateful battle in U.S. history" and "the most important job humans have been entrusted with."
"If you don't fight for what you want, you'll regret what you end up with," warned another speaker.
"Occupy banner" by Marta Steele
A surprising participant in the event was an investor, Tom Steyer, who is also founder of the Center for the Next Generation. Steyer informed his surprised listeners that the pipeline is not a good investment, not "business as usual"; we simply can't afford forty more years of carbon energy.
"We must dare to say no and invent a cleaner, cheaper energy future," he concluded.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), representing the federal government but critical of its policies, said that his colleagues must wake up to reality and stop calling climate change a hoax. We must help the president to work toward these crucial environmental goals.
"We were made for this moment," he said. We must be able to say to our posterity, "Yes, we did!" A chant of "Yes, we can!" followed from the huge audience.