Environmentalists rallied on and around Washington’s National Mall last Sunday in an event organized by the Sierra Club, 350.org and the Hip Hop Caucus. Spurred on by opposition to the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, their rallying cry rang out for all to hear:
“Hey, Obama. We don’t want no climate drama.”
Those protesting climate change are pushing more each day for President Obama to take matters of global warming into his own hands. In his last State of the Union address, the president highlighted the importance of addressing climate change, saying, “I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change… But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.”
Environmentalists say now is the time for executive orders rather than waiting on Congress to take action. “Congress is a place where good ideas go to die,” said Melinda Pierce, legislative director for the environmental group, the Sierra Club. “There is a tremendous amount that his administration can do without Congress. He has the authority. He doesn’t have to wait for Congress.”
Scientists agree that a global increase in temperature of more than 2 degrees Celsius would be devastating to the planet. To avoid that scenario, though, our carbon emissions must be strictly controlled. We must find a way to be more energy efficient, and staying below the 2 degrees threshold means essentially leaving about 80% of all fossil fuel reserves untouched. Tapping into the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline would actively go against that idea.
The project has already been rejected once by the Obama administration, and environmentalists hope that it will be again—this time for good. Though it would be a great source of jobs and revenue, the global impact would be far more devastating than good. The key, they say, is using our resources to tap into renewable energy.
“Climate change is an established science. And it’s time we get our act together and find a better way is renewable energy,” said Lissa Spitz, one of the protesters. “If they put a miniscule amount of money into research and development for renewable energy that they spend on fossil fuels, we’d be there now. You know, it’s not because it can’t be done. It’s because of the political and financial powers that be that have a vested interest in keeping the system that we have now. And it’s not working.”