By Reginald Johnson
Sept. 2, 2011
It’s a stirring sight to see so many people engaging in acts of civil disobedience in the on-going protest outside the White House against the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the United States.
To date more than 1,000 people have gotten arrested by sitting in front of the White House and refusing to leave, in the largest environmental protest in a generation. The demonstrators are trying to pressure President Barack Obama into rejecting a permit for the 1,700-mile pipeline.
The pipeline will carry a million barrels of tar sands oil a day from Alberta to refineries in Texas. Tar sands oil is particularly heavy in greenhouse pollutants like carbon, and the refinement into petroleum will emit large amounts of carbon and other gases.
The earth’s atmosphere is already loaded with carbon, which is creating global warming and an increasing amount of extreme weather --- hurricanes, tornadoes, drought and wildfires.
The last thing the planet needs is for the U.S. to start tapping into this massive amount of tar sands and sending tons more carbon into the air.
This is a time when the U.S. and other countries have to sharply cut back on the use of fossil fuels in order to fight global warming --- not make the problem worse.
Don’t take my word for it. Take the word of Dr. James Hansen, the NASA scientist and leading climatologist who said recently that if the tar sands project goes through, “it’s essentially game over for the climate.”
In scientific terms, Hansen says that if we want to keep life sustainable on earth, there can be no more than 350 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere. Right now the atmosphere is at 392 parts per million.
Going ahead with the tar sands project and failing to take concerted steps to get off oil and coal, means there’s no hope. We’re hurtling towards 600 parts per million of carbon and doom for the planet.
Get involved in this battle. If you can’t make it to D.C. for the White House protest (Saturday is the last day for sit-ins at the White House, but another demonstration is planned in the city), go to www.tarsandsaction.org. Learn what’s happening and sign the petition asking President Obama to reject the tar sands pipeline.