Keystone XL: Everyday Without the KXL Is A Victory for Justice

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Update from Bill McKibben on latest Keystone announcement from President Obama:

Today’s Keystone XL news from DC is both important and murky. In brief, the Obama administration announced yet another delay in their decision about the pipeline, meaning it may be past the midterm elections before a final call is made.

Three things strike me:

  1. In pipeline terms it’s a win. Every day we delay a decision is a day when 830,000 barrels of oil stays safely in the ground. Together we’ve kept them at bay for three years now, and will continue to until perhaps the beginning of next year it seems.
  2. In climate terms, it’s a disappointment. Since the State Department can’t delay floods and droughts and El Ninos, we actually need President Obama providing climate leadership. If he’d just follow the science and reject the stupid pipeline he’d finally send a much-needed signal to the rest of the planet that he’s getting serious.
  3. In movement terms, it’s a sweet reminder that when we stand up we win. Three years ago this pipeline was a done deal, and thanks to you it’s come steadily undone. We can’t match Exxon or the Koch Bros with money; we can and have matched them with passion, spirit, creativity, and sacrifice.

So the Keystone fight goes on — we hope many of you will be in DC next weekend for Reject and Protect, joining the Cowboy Indian Alliance to say “hell no” to the pipeline.The Alliance members coming to DC next week are some of the strongest leaders in this fight.

If you can’t be there yourself, can you show your support for the Cowboy Indian Alliance by telling Pres. Obama and Sec. Kerry to use this delay to meet with them? act.350.org/sign/cowboy-indian-alliance/

The decision to delay was made — supposedly — account for the impact of a possible new pipeline route in Nebraska. As it happens, next week Nebraskans and members of US Tribes and Canadian First Nations will be in Washington — it seems to me that it would be prudent for the President and Sec. Kerry to make plans to meet with the Cowboy Indian Alliance at their encampment and get their story of what this pipeline would mean on the ground.

The climate fight can’t be delayed. We need to keep building the movement, and we need to keep putting heat on leaders like President Obama till we win not delay but action. Today’s DC decision just reinforces the message that if we stand together we will make a decisive difference — and there is an important opportunity on the horizon to do that in the biggest way yet, to be announced soon.

The last thing to say is thank you. You are the strength in this movement, and together we will make even more amazing things possible.

Forward,

Bill McKibben for 350.org

Sources: “Keystone Decision to be Delayed” USA Today, April 18 2014

 

Bill McKibben: Will Obama Block the KXL or Keep Bending?

Steve Liptay_McKibbenBill McKibben, recent winner of the Gandhi Peace Award, posted an update on the Keystone XL fight. It’s a good overview of where we are now in this massive movement to prevent the oil industry from taking down the planet. Here’s McKibben’s recent article in Grist:

… [Obama’s] administration has OKed oil drilling in the dangerous waters of the Arctic and has emerged as the biggest backer of fracking. Even though he boasts about marginal U.S. cuts in carbon emissions, his green light to fracking means that he’s probably given more of a boost to releases of methane — another dangerous greenhouse gas — than any man in history. And it’s not just the environment. At this point, given what we know about everything from drone warfare to NSA surveillance, the dream of a progressive Obama has, like so many dreams, faded away.

The president has a handy excuse, of course: a truly terrible Congress. And too often — with the noble exception of those who have been fighting for gay rights and immigration reform — he’s had little challenge from progressives. But in the case of Keystone, neither of those caveats apply: He gets to make the decision all by himself with no need to ask John Boehner for a thing, and people across the country have made a sustained din about it. Americans have sent record numbers of emails to senators and a record number of comments to the State Department officials who oversee a “review” of the pipeline’s environmental feasibility; more have gone to jail over this issue than any in decades. Yet month after month, there’s no presidential decision.

There are days, in fact, when it’s hard to muster much fire for the fight (though whenever I find my enthusiasm flagging, I think of the indigenous communities that have to live amid the Mordor that is now northern Alberta). The president, after all, has already allowed the construction of the southern half of the Keystone pipeline, letting Transcanada take land across Texas and Oklahoma for its project, and setting up the beleaguered communities of Port Arthur, Texas, for yet more fumes from refineries.

Continue reading “Bill McKibben: Will Obama Block the KXL or Keep Bending?”

IRD’s Mark Tooley Takes Issue With McKibben on Climate Change

Mark Tooley
The Institute of Religion and Democracy president Mark Tooley, a longtime “opponent” of Sojourners’ Christian mission and also a faithful brother in Christ, has taken issue with my article Why Bill McKibben is the New Noah.

IRD is a conservative religious thinktank noted for its critique of  progressive religious groups as well as for advocating a strong defense of Christian freedom and traditionalist view of scripture as well as a conservative political perspective. Mark has worked at IRD for many years. He’s also a proud Methodist – as is Bill McKibben.

Mark writes:

McKibben’s plan is for all enlightened investors to divest from oil, gas and coal companies, to levy special taxes on energy firms, and to demonstrate against the Keystone Pipeline and development of tar sands oil. Berger admits these acts may not “completely reverse climate change.” But “we’ve got to listen to Noah this time.” After all, remember last time.

It’s nice that Rolling Stone readers were momentarily excited. But getting arrested at anti-pipeline demonstrations will not affect global temperatures. If prophets of climate apocalypse are anywhere near accurate, the global industrial economy would have to grind to a virtual halt before there’s any appreciable impact.

McKibben’s counsel may help stifle economic growth, keep poor people poor, and help corrupt overseas tyrants retain their energy monopoly. It will not affect climate. But it will help yuppy environmentalists feel virtuous at minimal cost to themselves. Didn’t the real Noah demand more?

For Mark, I’d have to say this is as close to a plea for help as I’ve ever heard from him. I agree with him completely that a blip in Twitter after Bill McKibben’s Rolling Stone article does not reverse climate change, nor does risking arrest in front of the White House. But I firmly believe that “acting in hope” and choosing to act “for life,” rather than withdraw in cynicism, will be honored by the Holy Spirit and is a faithful expression of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As for Mark targeting the emotional life of “yuppy environmentalists” … well, I also agree. People don’t like to sacrifice – especially when they don’t see others around them doing it. And for the U.S. to seriously reduce our dependency on finite energy resources, we need to all sacrifice–starting at the top of the economic pyramid–rather than just making the poorest and the weakest sacrifice.

Besides, if there is one thing that Bill McKibben has made clear, it’s that we can’t get ourselves out of this climate mess by buying a Prius or or recycling. There has to be an international sea change in how we do business or there will be … well, an international sea change.

Mark speculates that the strategy McKibben and others around the world are putting forward to reverse climate change may “stifle economic growth, keep poor people poor, and help corrupt overseas tyrants retain their energy monopoly.” Gee. I sure hope not. But since the current system is doing these things anyway, I’m not sure what we have to lose.

And I’m very clear what we stand to gain: A planet where God’s word can take root in fertile soil and where the rains come in due season; a planet where “they will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). Thanks, Mark, and peace.

Rose Marie Berger: Why Bill McKibben Is The New Noah

Noah and friends

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.

What I liked about Bill’s article was that he lays out a clear, 3-pronged strategy for really doing something about climate change while there’s still time.

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 carbonfee-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.

Rose Marie Berger, author of Who Killed Donte Manning? is a Catholic peace activist and a Sojourners associate editor. She blogs at rosemarieberger.com.

Resources and Further Reading

Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math by Bill McKibben

1. ECONOMIC

2. LEGISLATIVE

3. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY/DIRECT ACTION

A Rising Tide Lifts All … Death Tolls

Oct 11: Filipino police dig for bodies in La Trinidad, Philippines, after Typhoon Parma.
Oct 11: Filipino police dig for bodies in La Trinidad, Philippines, after Typhoon Parma.

Scientists say that 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere is the safe limit for humanity. We are now at 385.92. Not good.

A new report from UCLA scientist Aradhna Tripati says that the last time we were this hot was 20 million years ago – and the seas covered the earth.

Read an excerpt from Tripati’s report below:

“The last time carbon dioxide levels were apparently as high as they are today — and were sustained at those levels — global temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than they are today, the sea level was approximately 75 to 120 feet higher than today, there was no permanent sea ice cap in the Arctic and very little ice on Antarctica and Greenland,” said the paper’s lead author, Aradhna Tripati, a UCLA assistant professor in the department of Earth and space sciences and the department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences.

“A slightly shocking finding,” Tripati said, “is that the only time in the last 20 million years that we find evidence for carbon dioxide levels similar to the modern level of 387 parts per million was 15 to 20 million years ago, when the planet was dramatically different.”

Levels of carbon dioxide have varied only between 180 and 300 parts per million over the last 800,000 years — until recent decades, said Tripati, who is also a member of UCLA’s Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics. It has been known that modern-day levels of carbon dioxide are unprecedented over the last 800,000 years, but the finding that modern levels have not been reached in the last 15 million years is new.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the carbon dioxide level was about 280 parts per million, Tripati said. That figure had changed very little over the previous 1,000 years. But since the Industrial Revolution, the carbon dioxide level has been rising and is likely to soar unless action is taken to reverse the trend, Tripati said.

“During the Middle Miocene (the time period approximately 14 to 20 million years ago), carbon dioxide levels were sustained at about 400 parts per million, which is about where we are today,” Tripati said. “Globally, temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer, a huge amount.”

In the last 20 million years, key features of the climate record include the sudden appearance of ice on Antarctica about 14 million years ago and a rise in sea level of approximately 75 to 120 feet.

“We have shown that this dramatic rise in sea level is associated with an increase in carbon dioxide levels of about 100 parts per million, a huge change,” Tripati said. “This record is the first evidence that carbon dioxide may be linked with environmental changes, such as changes in the terrestrial ecosystem, distribution of ice, sea level and monsoon intensity.”

Read the whole article here. And check out the 350 Campaign.