Keeping Tar Sands in the Ground

By · Monday, February 13th, 2012

Stopping the tar sands is important enough to be arrested for.

Although I’m a bit of a rabble-rouser, I’m not the sort of person that goes out and gets herself arrested.  That is, unless its for something important, I mean really important.  Last summer, I determined that the issue of the tar sands was that sort of thing that was important enough to travel to DC and to be arrested in front of the White House in an act of civil disobedience.

I did it because once I read up about climate change and the connection between dirty fossil fuels, I understood just what was at stake if President Obama gave the green light to the Keystone XL Pipeline that was proposed to take dirty tar sands from Alberta, Canada down to Texas.

Extracting the tar sands in Alberta Canada is a last act of desperation by a planet addicted to dirty fossil fuels.  For the most part, we’ve run out of the easy to get oil and gas. We’ll pay way too high a price to burn this hard to get crud- and I’m not talking about money here. Burning this bitumen (the technical name for the sticky crud that lies beneath the pristine Borreal forests of Canada) will launch us to a point of no return in terms of climate chaos. Extracting tar sands oil causes 20% more global warming pollution than conventional oil. This is unacceptable.

Last year, I read James Hansen’s book Storms of My Grandchildren which tells the story of how the Bush administration  worked to squelch Hansen who was NASA’s top climate scientist at the time. Reading Storms of My Grandchildren, I learned that the continued  burning of all fossil fuels and other human-caused climate changes will cause the climate system to pass tipping points, such that we hand our children and grandchildren a dynamic situation that is out of their control.

If we continue down this path, our future will include these grim realities:

• droughts, heat waves, and forest fires of unprecedented ferocity

• 20% of Earth’s species—about two million species—will be extinct or on the way to certain extinction

• a rapidly rising sea level, with more coming out of humanity’s control

• frontal (cyclonic) storms with hurricane-like winds, which, with rising seas and storm surges, will devastate thousands of coastal cities

Burning dirty tar sands will accelerate this path.

I can’t live with that sort of future. So I am doing everything I can to keep the tar sands in the ground.  After over 1,250 of us were arrested last summer and after 12,000 people encircled the White House last fall, we thought we were getting somewhere.  I’m in good company, people like the Dalai Lama, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Robert Redford, Mark Ruffalo and countless others have come out very loudly and publicly against this pipeline and against extracting tar sands.

President Obama said “no!” to the giant pipeline. But it didn’t stop there. So much money is invested in this toxic project that the battle is escalating.

Right now, the Senate is considering legislation to resurrect Keystone XL, overriding President Obama’s rejection of the pipeline, and greenlighting construction of this disastrous project.

What can you do about this?

For the next 24 hours, every environmental group in the country, along with allies like and CREDO Action, are coalescing for a 24-hour email blitz of the Senate. If we do it right, it will be the biggest burst of environmental advocacy so far this millennia.

We need YOU to warm up your typing fingers. Round up everyone you know and ask them to click here and sign the petition. Let every senator know that this pipeline must be stopped.

If not, we are talking game over for the environment. Its that serious.

I hope you’ll join me and I hope you ask all of your friends to do so as well. Our future is at stake. Let’s do this.



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