Hansen’s righteous cause

The latest communication from James Hansen to his email list this week was a sharp reminder that the New Zealand Government’s commitment to the pursuit of unexploited fossil fuels is part of widespread malpractice.

The global stampede to find every possible fossil fuel is not being opposed by governments, no matter how dirty the fuels nor how senseless the energy strategy is from long-term economic and moral perspectives.

The specific case that Hansen focuses on is the Alberta tar sands. He has some chilling statistics.

Continue reading “Hansen’s righteous cause”

A fighting chance?

Bill McKibben has a striking article this week in Yale e360 in which he explains why the protest against the pipeline to carry tar sands oil from Alberta to the US may be the start of “something big and desperate”. The desperate part is easy to understand. Three converging factors contribute to it, political, meteorological and geological.

Politically the US administration has failed to secure carbon legislation, or even to show much resolve to do so, with the result that there isn’t going to be a price on carbon in America, and hence not in most of the world, any time soon. The hope that surrounded Obama’s election in that respect has evaporated.

That hope was perhaps always excessive — but then, the man himself had done all that he could to encourage it. On the night he clinched the nomination he said that during his presidency “the rise of the oceans will begin to slow and the planet begin to heal.” Waiting for a messiah, we managed to convince ourselves we might have found one.

Meanwhile the climate is changing. Continue reading “A fighting chance?”

Tar Sands Action Draws to a Finish, But More to Come says McKibben

“Be here on Saturday September 3rd. You don’t need to get arrested. There will be people getting arrested but we’re to also have a big rally and … its going to be a beautiful finish to phase one of this campaign. After that stay tuned…this is a fight we might actually have some chance of winning and so we’ve got to keep the pressure seriously on.”

That’s Bill McKibben in this short street interview. Spare them a thought on Saturday.


The Power of Non-violent Civil Disobedience

In a post on the Guardian website Bill McKibben reflects on civil disobedience after his stint in jail last weekend. He had thought he might be writing a blog post from jail:

“But frankly, I wasn’t up to it. The police, surprised by how many people turned out on the first day of two weeks of protests at the White House, decided to teach us a lesson. As they told our legal team, they wanted to deter anyone else from coming – and so, with our first crew, they were… kind of harsh.

“We spent three days in D.C.’s Central Cell Block, which is exactly as much fun as it sounds like it might be. You lie on a metal rack with no mattress or bedding and sweat in the high heat; the din is incessant; there’s one baloney sandwich with a cup of water every 12 hours.

“I didn’t have a pencil – they wouldn’t even let me keep my wedding ring – but, more important, I didn’t have the peace of mind to write something. It’s only now, out 12 hours and with a good night’s sleep under my belt, that I’m able to think straight.” Continue reading “The Power of Non-violent Civil Disobedience”

Arrests and jailings begin

Arrests have begun on the first two days of the tar sands protest action outside the White House which I wrote about on Friday. Bill McKibben was among the first batch arrested on Saturday. The police have tightened up on their earlier assurances that the arrests would result in a $100 fine and release the same day. They are now keeping the arrested people in jail until a court appearance today.  The U.S. Park Police told organizers of the sit-in that the jail time was expressly intended as a deterrent for future participants. They were especially concerned that sit-ins would continue during the week of events beginning on August 28 surrounding the dedication of a new memorial to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., one of the greatest exponents of creative nonviolence.

McKibben’s message to fellow organizers from jail:

“The only thing we need in here is more company. We don’t need your sympathy, we need your company.”

Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, who was also arrested on Saturday said:

 “Saturday’s arrests and overnight jailings are already lighting a fire. More people are now inspired, determined, and committed to join. On Monday alone over 20 DC-area doctors, lawyers and students will be going to jail to chant, sing, and stop the pipeline. They’ll be joining Nebraska ranchers and others nationwide. Word is spreading.”

Saturday’s jailings didn’t deter the Sunday demonstration. 70 people gathered for it and 45 were arrested.  You can follow the course of the protest on the Tar Sands Action website, and I’ll provide updates from time to time over the next fortnight. These arrested people represent all of us who are perturbed by governments’ failure to respond to the warnings of science