I have a friend named Doug — fairly ordinary guy who graduated from high school back in 1965. Then went on to college, studied engineering, worked as a petroleum engineer after college, got married, had kids and now a couple of grand kids. Frankly, he’s at an age when most people spend their time trying to sign up for Medicare but just last month he did something a bit unusual. He flew across the entire United States, got off a plane, went to the White House and got himself arrested. Yes, arrested for the first time in his entire life. This former exon-mobile petroleum engineer standing there in the hot sun in front of the White House, in a nice white shirt, that complemented his very white hair and smiled as a federal officer arrested him—clapped his arms behind him as the cuffs were put on.
Oh, I know you probably don’t know Doug. He is not from around here. You might know Carol Tansey, a retired local teacher, who took up her place in line to be arrested just as my friend Doug was returning home. And they were not alone either. In fact over a 1200 people have been arrested during these very weeks when Hurricane Irene, you know that nasty bit of weather made nastier still, scientists tell us, by a changing climate that made it easier for Irene to travel north carrying menacing levels of rain few of us here in the north east have ever experienced.
Yes, my friends Doug and Carol got themselves arrested fighting to forestall a dramatically changing climate – arrested because they understand as so few of our so called leaders do that America vitally needs a new green energy future – one that offers jobs now and future that won’t lock us into chasing after diminishing sources of last century fossil fuels like petroleum or drag us into foreign wars or terrorism of the sort Iraq and Nine Eleven so obviously represent. And yet, if you can believe it, we have an administration that somehow thinks it might be a good idea to build a pipe line across America. Yes, a pipeline from Canada to Texas to carry the especially climate altering dirty Canadian tar sand oil that is enormously expensive to harvest even as it puts a large chunk of America at risk of more damaging oil spills that could destroy the fresh water supplies of millions.
Ok, I understand completely why we might want to slowly phase out those already developed dirty fossil fuel sources but to start in 2011 yet, another major fossil infrastructure project. Are you kidding! Which is why over the last month regular folks and celebrities, scientists and engineers allowed themselves to be arrested in one of the biggest examples of civil disobedience America has seen in recent memory. Demanding that the Keystone Canadian tar sands oil pipeline not be built, a decision that President Obama can stop all by himself, no need to depend on all those other politicians who can’t connect the energy dots from Iraq to Nine Eleven, from Irene to the fires in Texas.
Which is why my friends Doug and Carol put themselves in a position to get arrested. But you don’t have to feel the pinch of handcuffs to contribute. Just tune in next Wednesday when on the internet, the 24 Hours of Climate Reality begins at eight p.m. As folks from around the world will witness how the startling early arrival of some of the most dramatic aspects of the fossil fuel driven climate crisis are already hitting their communities, from the devastating floods in our own region to our friends in Texas who are finding drought parched regions just going up in smoke. And a great many will be watching, not just on the computers around the world But from local viewing parties From Russell Sage College’s Buchman Pavilion in Troy that will stay open the entire twenty four hours to Ballek’s Garden Center in Connecticut– From Suny Albany to the Montlair, New Jersey’s Fire Department
24 Hours of Climate Reality