Posted by: Dr Churchill | February 28, 2013

Climate Wars

Early last week in Washington many people got arrested for protesting at the White House by chaining themselves to the gates – against the Tar Sands pipeline being built across America to serve the Canadian Tar Sands polluters…

Being one of the many fine souls that had to experience manhandling, arrest, transport in criminal vans, days and nights of incarceration in the midst of career criminals, and the many hours of interrogation at the hands of the Justice department, begs one to ask: “Was it all Worth it?”

Well, for one, the company of strangers was excellent. Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy [son of JFK] and his son Connor, were also incarcerated alongside myself, and along many activists, and a steady stream of martyrs, willingly putting themselves forward. Great People. Am honoured to be in their company. Smiling faces stepping up beyond fear, to be arrested and experience the pivotal moment in their lives that Civil Disobedience represents… Never mind the pain, fear and uncertainty. That moment of arrest you are in a state of Grace. God’s bountiful Grace no less….

Yes. That;s why we do it. For Grace. Yet one more pragmatic person will ask: Why do we have to resort to this — when normal avenues of discourse are ever present in a Democracy?

Serious times require drastic measures. Last night an oil pipeline burst in the state of Texas and started spewing oil undetected for many hours by the so called safety measures and the oil company’s leak detectors> Oil kept getting spilled throughout the night, until people woke up and had to use their faucets to drink and wash. They then realized that oil mixed with water was coming out of their drinking water faucets and called emergency services reporting petroleum in their drinking water coming out of their spouts. Police then called the Oil company to report that their pipeline was burst and spewing oil in the town’s drinking water reservoirs….

That’s Why we do all this and that’s why get arrested in front of the White House…

We do all this because after a year of unprecedented destruction due to chaotic weather extremes, the climate fight is no longer just about climate impacts in the distant future. It’s about us and about now. It’s about the physical and moral consequences, right now. And this proposed and already starting to be built Tar Sands pipeline, isn’t simply a line in the sand for America crossing the threshold of rational thinking into insanity. This Tar Sands Oil pipeline crossing America is the line that transports us all into the evil territory of climate chaos. Yet it is also the high water mark for our swelling national climate movement demanding our leadership now. This newfound leadership comes from those of us willing to step up and be arrested and suffer the consequences of our Civil Disobedience.

We further do this because of National Security. Because we understand that this is a moral referendum of our willingness to do the simplest things we must do – in order to avert catastrophic climate disruption and Social Chaos. First things First: Let’s Stop making it worse. And Civil Disobedience is the only tool we have left when all else has failed us.

Ahimsa = Non Violence. That is the motto of our new Civil Rights Movement we are building here. And it takes being arrested for this to catch on. Many more are needed each and every day to be arrested in front of the White House and in front of the State House of your particular States> We want You to practice AHIMSA. Practice, Peaceful Civil Disobedience and we will win this. Ahimsa is what Ghandi termed his form of rebellion, and this is how he overthrew the Raj of the hateful British Empire in India and liberated his Billion odd people…

Same as now, that we face a huge challenge. We must rise up and clearly, specifically and categorically, declare. “End the Tar Sands Mr President.” END THIS TRAVESTY NOW. End it because we have the power and the mandate to cease making large, long-term capital investments in new fossil fuel infrastructure that “locks in” dangerous emission levels for many decades. The Tar Sands pipeline is both a conspicuous example of that kind of investment and a powerful symbol for the whole damnable evil category of the worst pollution ever. Developing Tar Sands is game over for the Environment and ourselves. Enabling the Tar Sands oil to get too the market easily is just as criminal as the Good Germans transporting the Jews to Auschwitz in the slaughter-house trains.

It’s true that stopping a single pipeline – even one as huge and odious as the Tar Sands Oil pipeline – will not literally “solve” climate disruption. We know that – because No single action will do that, any more than refusing to sit on the back of a single bus literally ended segregation.  The question – for the Tar Sands pipeline activists, protestors, and the public at large is – as it was for Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement – whether the action captures and communicates a principle powerful enough to inspire and sustain an irresistible movement for sweeping social change.

Stopping the tar Sands pipeline nails the core principle for climate responsibility, by preventing investments that make climate disruption irrevocably worse.

When we all know that the energy inputs of tar sands oil production outweigh the energy output, we all know just as clear as day that we are doomed if we go down that road. Pure Physics. These pesky and unaccounted for externalities will catch up with us sooner rather than later. Never mind that producing, transporting and burning tar sands oil produces lots more CO2 emissions than even coal production and burning. What’s really criminal here is that long-term capital investments like the Tar Sands pipeline, same as new coal plants, and coal export facilities, “locks in” those dangerous emissions for many decades to come, and erases our common future by making catastrophic climate disruption inevitable.

Now, if you are a fossil fuel company, “locking in dangerous emissions” means locking in profits.  It is your business strategy, precisely.  But for the rest of us this Tar Sands pipeline, is the hellish future. It’s a one-way, non-refundable ticket to centuries of climate chaos, dystopian hell and high water. Starting yesterday, last year and last century — this much is evident.

Therefore, We must not buy that ticket to ride the polluter’s railroad. We don’t belong in that slaughter house train leading us straight to the crematorium of Auschwitz.

The facts of the matter emerge from multiple lines of scientific and economic research, most notably the International Energy Agency’s 2012 World Energy Outlook, which starkly warned that the chance to avert catastrophic climate disruption would be “lost forever” without an immediate shift away from fossil fuel infrastructure investment.

That’s why we are doing it. That’s why we are chaining ourselves to the gates of the White House. To stop the Tar Sands from marring our lives now and from destroying our future.
We are building a new civil rights movement right along Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and RFK. We are imminently aware of our responsibilities. We are taking the steps that put our life today in jeopardy for your tomorrows…

That’s why we are being arrested and exposed to vagaries of health and safety. Because we care for your tomorrows… we can give a few of our days to You.

Understand Now?
So let’s stop the polluters before they stop us.
We don’t see the consequences of our actions as a short remedy but as a school of thought…

In contrast to popular logic, civil disobedience is but one of the many things we must do to advance positive climate solutions. We must built clean energy, electrify the fleet, create far more efficient cars, zero carbon buildings, better transportation choices, and forests full of CO2 absorbing areas.  Implementing all this is inherently slow, incremental, and subject to tradeoffs based on economic and other factors. But for now we should stop making things worse. We should stop new Tar Sands Oil development and transport to markets. We ought to do this for ourselves and not for our children. Our fossil fuel economy has to be decarbonized immediately.

The WHY we do this question has another aspect to it. And the answer is a judgment call, and a moral absolute. DO NO HARM. The precautionary principle… Simply put: “When you are in a hole – must stop digging” Because when it comes to stopping this Tar Sands pipeline and other fossil fuel infrastructure investments, the choice is clear: “Stop Building it.”

Most importantly, as we enter the era of climate consequences, the Climate Civil Rights Movement has moral power.  Sixty million Climate Refugees are shuffling their broken feet this year alone. More than six million people have lost their lives directly attributable to climate change. And when one hundred lives are lost, and many disrupted, by Superstorm Sandy we take notice because the news Media does a good job of reporting this tragedy in and around New York. But when 200,000 people’s lives are cut short — from a similar super storm the same year — in China, nobody make a big deal about it. Mainly because nobody knows since the news never reaches the Media. In China when there is a deadly climate storm, there is an instant media blackout and internet lockdown, lest the people figure out that the people’s Party cannot protect it’s people from the Climate they destroy so carelessly. God forbid the old fogies of the PRC look bad for failing to protect their people.

Yet this year when most of the states and counties in America were declared disaster areas due to drought we shrugged and said nothing, blaming the weather. Now it;s summer in Aussie land and when last month, parents in Australia sheltered their children from “tornadoes of fire” by putting them in the ocean — they were not fearing sharks. They were fearing Climate Change. America, Russia and Australia and many other parts of the world facing a thousand year drought – is not business as usual. It’s catastrophe and a Tragedy of the Commons.

Putting your children in the ocean as shark bait, while you mine and ship coal to burn in China, is what Ozzie insanity and climate disruption look like.

And now that the faces of climate victims are regular features of the daily news, what will we say to them?  And what will we say to our selves, let alone to our children – all prospective victims of still-preventable disasters?

Hope you understand now that defying Tar Sands and spending a few days in jail is a moral prerogative to a new Civil Rights Movement.

Because by defying the Tar Sands Pipeline we are saving lives and this is the basis of Natural Law. The law that is above all else. Thee law of kindness to your fellow human beings. Because the current law that prevents us from practicing civil disobedience and Ahimsa in front of the White House gates is wrong. Because it’s like saying “Sorry, you’re out of luck.  We will use our laws, our time, and our money to make the environment irretrievably worse by developing and transporting Tar Sands Oil, and throw you in jail, if you protest”

Yet protest we do and will keep on doing until the President and the Secretary of State have seen the light of day.

Thankfully President Obama has begun to carefully edge away from the moral bankruptcy of the Tar Sands Oil position…



Still when we protest by chaining ourselves to the White House gates is not an act of desperation…
Instead it’s an act of Courage and Moral leadership because we trust the President to do what’s RIGHT for the people.
We trust President Obama to do what’s ethical and correct for the American people.
For all of the American people.

And we take President Obama for face value based on his words.

We heard him carefully – all of us who were there – and trusted him when he said this in his inaugural address:
“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”

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