Epic Climate Protests Amid Severe Climate Impacts
Today at the White House, residents of Nebraska, along with a large contingency of DC residents, helped kick-off the third day of the largest civil disobedience in the history of the American climate movement. For two weeks, over 2,000 people from all 50 states are expected to take part in this ongoing sit-in. Their goal is to pressure President Obama to deny the permit for Keystone XL, a 1,700-mile pipeline from the tar sands in Canada to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. The pipeline has been called “the fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet.” More than 100 people including Bill McKibben and Gus Speth took the lead this weekend by sitting-in to stand up for clean air, fresh water and safe climate. Many of these participants are still being held under arrest. “Our land, water, and the future of our children are at stake. I feel our leaders need to take seriously their responsibility to pass on a healthy and just world to the next generation, I am going to Washington to remind them” said Lori Fisher, a small business owner from Nebraska. For more information on tar sands see USCAN’s newly renovated tar sands page and for more information on the tar sands action click here.
Another impressive voice this week came from Dick Kelly retiring CEO of Xcel Energy. In an interview from the MinnPost, Kelly said We’ve got to get off fossil fuels, the quicker the better. That’s not perspective often heard from the head of an utility company! The article goes on to explain how Kelly has driven Xcel to exceed the state’s mandate on renewable energy, which proves to be yet another example of how renewables can be good for business.
On another positive note, last Wednesday Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, announced the initial steps to develop commercial wind energy offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts. “Today’s announcement reflects the kind of efficient, forward-thinking planning we must do to quickly and responsibly stand up an American offshore wind industry,” said Secretary Salazar. This news was applauded by those who see the true potential of renewable energy for new jobs and a cleaner future.
Incentives for renewable energy are graciously welcomed as the implied impacts of climate change rapidly accrue. Wednesday, the National Weather Service announced that the US has already accumulated more than $35 billion in economic loss from severe weather. We have already tied the annual record for billion dollar weather disasters and hurricane season has several more months to go. “I don’t think it takes a wizard to predict 2011 is likely to go down as one of the more extreme years for weather in history,” National Weather Service Director Jack Hayes told journalists on a conference call. When asked if global warming was to blame for the rising frequency of wild weather, Hayes said that was “a research question” and that it would be difficult to link any one severe season to overall climate change. However the Environmental Protection Agency clearly states “Human-induced climate change has the potential to alter the prevalence and severity of extremes such as heat waves, cold waves, storms, floods and droughts. Though predicting changes in these types of events under a changing climate is difficult, understanding vulnerabilities to such changes is a critical part of estimating vulnerabilities and future climate change impacts on human health, society and the environment.”
In other weather related news, Texas’ epic drought continues. State officials announced that the scorching drought in Texas has caused an estimated $5.2 billion in crop and livestock losses this agricultural season and the number could still rise. Texas is not alone. Major drought has spread over large portions of the South, setting records, and leaving regions drier than they have been in several decades.
Finally, I would like to extend many thanks to those who have taken the lead in standing up to diffuse “the carbon bomb” and great thanks for all those working tirelessly for a safer climate as well. We need you now more than ever!
Written by: Marie Risalvato, Communications Coordinator
Photo Credit: TarSandsAction