Sierra Club Protesters Arrested Outside White House

For the first time in its 120 year history, the Sierra Club allowed civil disobedience as a tactic to protest the Keystone XL and its implications for climate change.  48 climate activists were escorted to jail on Wednesday outside of the White House, adding to the growing list of people and celebrities arrested in Washington protesting the Keystone XL and the climate issue.  Those arrested include Bill McKibben of 350.org, civil rights leader Julian Bond, Robert Kennedy Jr. and his son Connor Kennedy (Taylor Swift’s ex), and actress Daryl Hannah (from Kill Bill, who has been arrested at a Keystone protest before).

This video follows some of the action:

This Sunday, February 17th, there will be a massive rally and day of action in front of the White House, putting pressure on Obama to honour the promises he made about climate action in his inaugural speech and the State of the Union Address.

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It is extremely encouraging to see so much dissent and disapproval of the Keystone project and climate change in general coming from powerful American actors.  The Western world is often critiqued for being the causers of climate change while being the most willing to turn a blind eye to those who suffer its consequences –or, to only wish to address climate change if it can be marketized and be made profitable in some way, typically rendering climate responses contradictory and ineffective.  The people most affected by climate change are the poor populations around the world; mainly peasants in Asia and South America.  These are the same people expected to conserve their environments and plant trees instead of developing economically as part of carbon offset projects funded by wealthier people and corporations in the West.  Essentially, these projects allow Western nations to continue producing and emitting greenhouse gases at incredulous rates, while those who are suffering the consequences of rising tides and climate-related droughts are expected to ‘save the planet’ for us all.

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The steps taken by activists across North America –both wealthy and poor– in the face of the love affair between American finance capital and the fossil fuel industry is therefore wonderfully heartening.  Obama has the chance to be the president who makes a real difference –a real shift in the unequal and unsustainable power dynamics plaguing America (and by consequence, the world) today.  The time is now; let’s speak up and urge him to truly make that difference.

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