The people are moving. Our elders are asking us to take action to return the earth to a life-giving path. This 3 minute video provides a glimpse of this summer’s Healing Walk for the Earth at Ft. McMurry, Alberta. It’s incredibly well-done footage. Approach it as an icon — with the sense that God is looking at you through the images.
Bill McKibben is a good guy.
He’s a Sunday school teacher. He’s funny and a little shy. But he’s got a big problem.
He just got a job from God — and it’s not an easy one. It seems to me that Bill’s been tapped to be the new Noah to our faithless generation. It’s his job to warn us that we have “grieved the Lord in his heart” and that the flood waters will rise again if we don’t get back to working within our “original contract” and reverse climate change.
Remember the Bill Cosby skit about Noah and the Ark? Noah’s neighbors didn’t think much of him, and Noah himself didn’t know what he was doing half the time. But he had a job to do, and cubit by cubit, two by two, he did it.
Bill’s like that.
Last month, Rolling Stone magazine featured his latest plea for climate sanity on its cover. And despite every pundit’s whining proclamation that climate change is such a buzz-kill, Bill’s article got forwarded, commented, tweeted, and otherwise pushed around the Internet more than anything else RS has put out lately.
So somebody out there is paying attention to climate change — even if the elites can’t seem to grow a spine about it.
If we do these three things, there’s a possibility that we can reverse climate change, restore health to our skies, earth, and oceans, and move forward into a future where our grandkids can not just survive, but thrive.
Here’s the plan:
1. Divest or get active regarding all stockholdings in these six corporations: ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Peabody, Arch, and BP. These are the primary oil, natural gas, and coal companies operating in or through the United States that top the charts as carbon polluters. If Americans focus on U.S. companies, then we can be the tipping point for a transnational shift. If you — or the portfolio you influence — own stock, then get rid of it and tell the company why. If you don’t want to divest, then you need to decide now to become a shareholder activist. If you’re not a stockholder, then pressure your faith institutions, universities, and local governments to get out of “planet-killing” profits. This is the economic part of the plan.
2. Push for carbon “fee-and-dividend” laws on corporate carbon emitters at the local, state, and federal level. No more free rides for oil, gas, and coal companies. You pay taxes to have your garbage hauled away. Why shouldn’t they? The fee is charged at the point of origin or point of import on greenhouse gas emitting energy (oil, gas, and coal). The fee is progressive (increases gradually) over time. The fee is returned directly to the public in monthly dividends to individual taxpayers, with limited-to-no government involvement. Australia initiated this legislation in June. We can learn from them. This is the legislative part of the plan.
3. Take personal responsibility. Everyone can continue to limit energy consumption, use renewable energy sources, and build out a sustainable footprint for our homes and churches. But we also need people to step up and put their bodies on the line to stop the mining of tar sands in Alberta, Canada, and prevent the construction of the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines that are being built to transport Alberta’s unconventional “tar sands” oil. Scientists around the world say that opening the Alberta tar sands and pumping this non-traditional oil through these pipelines will put the planet on a one-way road to climate disaster. That’s why fighting the Keystone XL Pipeline in the U.S. and the Northern Gateway Pipeline in Canada is critical. This is the direct action and personal responsibility part of the plan.
The threat of climate change is overwhelming. It’s been hard to sort out what to do. But Bill McKibben has given us a plan — one that everyone can join in, one where everyone can take part.
And even though he presents it in a folksy manner, this stuff has been vetted from the farmers on the ground to the economists in the think tanks to the scientists running the algorithms. When governments fail, people stand up.
This plan may not work to completely reverse climate change. But if anything is going to succeed, we’ve got to listen to Noah this time. Or rather, Bill.
Welcome to the fight of your lifetime.
Resources and Further Reading
Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math by Bill McKibben
- 350.org will be covering all these issues. Dirty Energy Money tracks energy companies’ political donations.
- Investor Network on Climate Risk: Ask question about where your church’s pension fund resides and what “environmental screens” are placed on investments.
- Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility 2012 Proxy Resolutions
- Divestment Listening Tour Connects Students and Anti-Coal Activists
- Swarthmore College and several other campuses have launched a campaign to divest from fossil fuels
- Australia passed carbon fee and dividend legislation in summer 2012
- What is Fee-and-Dividend?
- Proposed Fee-and-Dividend Legislation
- Carbon Fee and Dividend Act of 2010 – Issues About Carbon Fee and Dividend legislation
3. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY/DIRECT ACTION
Wanblee, South Dakota – Oglala Lakota Nation – March 5, 2012. Marie Randall is 92 and standing in the road blocking the trucks carrying segments for the Keystone XL pipeline. Five Lakotas on Pine Ridge Indian land in South Dakota were arrested Monday after attempting to block two tarsands pipeline trucks from entering their land. According to the Lakota activist the six-hour standoff started when the trucks refused to turn around claiming they had “corporate rights that supersede any other law.”
Here are three films on the Pipeline for use with your communities and congregations.
DIRTY OIL (USA, 2009, 73 min.)
Exposing the environmental and human rights issues in Alberta’s toxic oil sands, the film traces the environmental and social impacts of Canadian oil on both sides of the U.S. border. It follows pipelines from the Alberta oil sands to the American Midwest to witness how U.S. refineries, much like their Canadian counterparts, are increasing toxic dumping into the Great Lakes. It features interviews with top environmentalists, scientists, government officials, local residents and chiefs of nearby aboriginal tribes. Narrated by Neve Campbell. Directed by Leslie Iwerks.
PIPE DREAMS (USA, 2011, 40 min.)
Across the heartland of America, farmers and landowners are fighting to protect their land, their water and their livelihood in what has become a controversial environmental battle. This film spotlights the David and Goliath struggle over the tar sands Keystone XL Pipeline, proposed to be routed from Hardisty, Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, crossing the country’s largest freshwater resource, the Ogallala Aquifer, and the fragile Sandhills of Nebraska, posing devastating consequences to human health, livestock, and agriculture. Interviews are featured with farmers and ranchers along the pipeline’s route and with Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, International Program Director, Natural Resources Defense Council. Narrated by Daryl Hannah. Directed and produced by Leslie Iwerks.
DOWNSTREAM (USA, 2008)
At the heart of the multi-billion dollar Oil Sands industry in Alberta, Canada, a doctor’s career is jeopardized as he fights for the lives of the aboriginal people living and dying of rare cancers downstream from one of the most polluting oil operations in the world.
While citizens across the United States have been demanding President Obama deny the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, Canadians and First Nations folks have been organizing as well.
One question I’ve been asked repeatedly during the Tar Sands organizing is: “If we stop the mining and oil company from building a pipeline from Alberta to Texas, won’t they just a build one from Alberta to the Pacific and ship the oil to China?”
The companies were only too happy to have us buy their logic. But the truth was that our job in the U.S. was to keep the pipeline out of our backyard, and trust that the Canadian movement would do the same. Well, it turns out they have. First Nations folks pledged to block construction with their bodies and widespread public concern has forced the Harper government to review environmental concerns.
Thanks to Brendan DeMelle at DeSmogBlog for his summary:
The Calgary Herald reports that the decision on the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline was delayed today until late 2013, a year later than planned. The three-member panel said it “would anticipate releasing the environmental assessment report in the fall of 2013 and its final decision on the project around the end of 2013.”
The joint review panel of Environment Canada and the National Energy Board announced that it will take the additional year to review the widespread public concern over the proposed pipeline, which would cut through First Nations lands in order to shuttle the dirtiest oil on the planet, Alberta tar sands, to Asian export markets.
The delay is not a good sign for Enbridge or KinderMorgan, the two major tar sands pipeline interests hoping to enable the export of Alberta’s climate-killing product overseas. As we learned last week, the oil industry will face a powerful adversary since BC’s First Nations pledged, as a united front, to halt construction and prevent the proposed pipelines from crossing their territory.
Marking their commitment against the pipeline projects, 55 First Nations leaders from across BC signed the Save the Fraser Declaration. “These First Nations form an unbroken wall of opposition from the U.S. border to the Arctic Ocean,” said the group in a statement.
In response to the firm commitment of First Nations leaders, federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said today that Northern Gateway “shouldn’t be held hostage by aboriginal and environmental groups threatening to create a human “wall” to prevent construction,”according to the National Post article, “Oil industry’s ‘nation-building’ pipeline won’t be stopped by protesters.
“The joint review panel will begin community hearings in Kitimat, B.C., on Jan. 10 to hear from both sides on this contentious issue. The hearings are sure to attract a lot of attention, and chances are pretty good that much of it will not be favorable to Enbridge or any other proposed tar sands pipeline.
In the wake of the delay and likely demise of the Keystone XL pipeline, all indications point to a difficult, and perhaps insurmountable, challenge ahead for any tar sands pipeline construction. …
Canadians have been very active in supporting the U.S. fight against the Keystone XL pipeline. Now it’s time for us to return the favor. If you can get to any of the community review hearings to support organizers there, please back up your kit bag and go!
Read Brendan’s complete article.
President Barack Obama will decide as early as September whether to light a fuse to the largest carbon bomb in North America. That bomb is the massive tar sands field in Canada’s Alberta province. And the fuse is the 1,700-mile long Keystone XL Pipeline that would transport this dirtiest of petroleum fuels all the way to Texas refineries.
I am writing you now because the Keystone XL Pipeline is a climate and pollution horror beyond description. From August 20th to September 3rd, thousands of Americans – including Bill McKibben, Danny Glover, and NASA’s Dr. James Hansen, and myself – will be at the White House, day after day, demanding Obama reject this tar sands pipeline.
While pro-oil lobbies will undoubtedly tell President Obama that America needs the jobs, there are thousands of Americans who are saying “No more dirty work! Give us clean, green jobs for a healthy planet and healthy families.”
Given the high stakes, many protestors will engage in peaceful civil disobedience, day after day to make their voices heard. Already the attention this event is getting will likely make it the biggest act of civil disobedience in the climate movement’s history.
I’m going to be there, and I hope you will join me – this action, and this issue needs your voice. This action will be going on for two weeks, but you only need to be there for one day – so pick a day between Aug. 20 and Sept. 3 that you can make it to DC, and let the world know just what you think of the tar sands. Click here to sign up.
If you would like to participate with the “Religious Contingent” affinity group on AUGUST 29, then sign up at the Tar Sands Action site AND ALSO send an email to Tim Kumfer ([email protected]).
If built, the Keystone XL Pipeline would lock America into a future of planet-warming energy dependency. Indeed, Dr. Hansen – America’s top climate scientist – has said that full exploitation of Canada’s tar sands would be “game over” for efforts to solve climate change.
In 2009, Catholic Bishop Luc Bouchard of Alberta, Canada, wrote in a prophetic pastoral letter warning of the moral danger of this pipeline.
“When there is uncertainty as to whether a development project seriously endangers the environment, a pre-cautionary principle utilizing prudence and caution should guide the decision making process which itself must be administratively transparent. Therefore, massive projects that clearly endanger the environment must be approached in a deliberate, open, and consultative manner.”
President Obama alone – without input from Congress – has the power to approve or reject the Keystone XL Pipeline.
He will decide as soon as September whether to honor his campaign pledge to create a clean-energy economy, or to lock us in as a nation that cooks and distills filthy tar sands for much of our energy. Building this pipeline will be an economic and moral setback for clean-energy sources of all types. This is a line in the sand. The tar sands!
Here’s the link to sign up again: http://www.tarsandsaction.org/sign-up. Let me know if you have any questions, thoughts or concerns – I hope you’ll join us. This is just too important to stay home.
Peace and All Good,