Next Wednesday, August 25, I will return home to Maryland and Washington, D.C., not to visit all of my friends and family, but rather to protest President Obama’s decision to build an oil pipeline from the Tar Sands of Northern Alberta, Canada, to the American Oil Refineries on the Gulf Coast. For those that know me well, it takes a lot to pull me away from my mission to “walk across America and pick up trash.” But after exploring the facts, I feel the urgency to act boldly.
Here are the facts:
- For every barrel of tar sand oil produced, six barrels of freshwater from the Athabasca River are polluted and stored in 30 square mile toxic ponds that sit adjacent to the river.
- These ponds are already leaking over 3 million gallons of toxic water into the Athabasca River every day.
- The pipeline is set to cross over the Ogalalla Aquifer which irrigates one-third of all crops in the Midwest and provides eight states with drinking water.
- Producing a barrel of Tar Sand oil emits three times more greenhouse gases than producing a barrel of conventional oil.
- Extraction of the Tar Sands requires permanently disturbing one of the largest, intact old-growth forests left on Earth. The destruction of this forest will destroy habitat and prevent the boreal forest from providing ecosystem services that at present moment are catching and storing carbon from our climate.
- If this pipeline and current development of the tar sands continues as planned, it will release twice as many greenhouse gases as are currently produced by all the cars and trucks in Canada.
- Scientific research predicts that more than 166 million birds will die from habitat loss and drowning in the toxic pools over the next 30-50 years if development continues as planned.
- Large game species are exhibiting tumors and mutations as a result of consuming toxic water. Nearby moose have been found to have over 33 times the safe amount of arsenic in their meat, a staple for indigenous populations.
- Communities downstream from the tar sands are already exhibiting respiratory problems, rare forms of cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.
- The Koch Brothers, the same corporation dedicated to spreading lies about climate change and funding the tea party, is set to be the primary profiteer from building this pipeline.
*All facts from Climate and Capitalism
At this point, if you haven’t made the connection between Climate Change and record rainfalls, record setting snowstorms, record tornadoes in the Midwest, record setting temperatures across the world, the first time the Arctic ocean has had a summer without ice, and record setting droughts across the world, you must either have your head in the sand, or your straight ignoring reality for an ideology, or your drunk with consumer apathy.
Here are the reasons why YOU should shed the apathy and join me when I sit in front of the White House on Sunday August 27:
- This will be the turning point of the Climate Movement in America. Already 2,000 people have pledged to sit down in front of the White House to potentially get arrested for blocking a sidewalk. It comes just one month after climate hero Tim DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in prison for bidding on an illegal sale of land for oil development. If his sentencing was our Rosa Parks moment, then this action is our Montgomery Bus Boycott. We must recognize the importance of this moment, rise to the occasion, and act boldly with what is at stake.
- This action is well organized, pointed in messaging and with more people joining our ranks, it will undoubtedly convince Obama to suspend the permits and plans for building the pipeline.
- There are few good jobs now. And with a permanently altered climate, there will be even less jobs on a planet that has passed its carrying capacity. Given what’s at stake, concern for a cushy job is a negligent dream in comparison to our responsibility to preserve a livable planet for your children and the future of humanity.
- The consequence is likely just $100 fine for obstructing a sidewalk and nothing on your permanent record.
- A real climate movement must be comprised of all people who understand the gravity of the issue and are willing to act with such sincerity. No change in America has ever happened without people willing to sacrifice to usher in that change.
- The greatest thing you can ever do for your own happiness is to live your life the way your conscience or your inner truth dictates. Any compromise buries your true self and your search for real, sustained happiness. To bring it to the surface, find that intuition calling from deep within and follow it. If you believe building this pipeline is wrong, then let your actions show it! Don’t swallow it, get drunk, and say we’re all doomed. ‘Cause we’re not; the future is ours to write.
- You will have my friendship and loyalty forever.
While the tar sands are just one specific environmental problem at present, this action is coming at a time when bold action is demanded from every citizen who wants to see action on climate change. If we do not act in the face of a denying GOP, a complacent president, record profits for oil/coal/natural gas executives, and a justice system that is paid to uphold the status quo, we will never see real solutions to these problems.
Sometimes, disobedience is the highest form of patriotism.