March 02, 2009
Many activists see this year as a possible turning-point in how the US government views energy policy and climate change. Since taking office in January, President Obama’s administration has already signaled that it plans to take climate change far more seriousy than its predecessors. Just last week, President Obama released a preliminary budget that included revenue from cap-and-trade programs, though Congress has yet to take up the issue. Activists have been calling for a cap-and-trade program on CO2 emissions for years.
“This is just the moment to up the ante,” said Bill McKibben, professor and founder of 350.org, a climate change group. "Barack Obama–an organizer himself–has asked us all to give him the political backing he needs to make the change that science requires. When civil disobedience works, it demonstrates a willingness to bear a certain amount of pain for a larger end — a way to say, ‘coal is bad enough that I’m willing to get arrested.’”
Along with McKibben other notable scientists and environmentalists are at the capitol today. Dr. James Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and professor at Colombia University, has signaled his willingness to get arrested at the protests. In addition, author Wendell Berry, former Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson, environmental lawyer and writer Gus Speth, activist and writer Vandana Shiva, and actress Daryl Hannah will be in attendance.
The protest had an early and unexpected victory last Friday when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Harry Reid asked that the Capitol Power Plant move away from coal toward natural gas by the end of the year.
“Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid’s dramatic action shows that Congress can act quickly on global warming when the public demands it,” said Greenpeace Deputy Campaigns Director Carroll Muffett. “This move demonstrates that they recognize the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for a switch to cleaner energy sources.”
Photo: Indigenous leaders form giant human banner to protest Amazon destruction
(01/28/2009) Gathering at the World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil, indigenous people from across Latin America today called upon world leaders to protect the Amazon rainforest which is under continued threat from loggers, ranchers, and agroindustrial companies. Nearly 12,000 square kilometers (4,600 sq miles) of Amazon rainforest were destroyed last year while another 25,000 square kilometers were damaged or degraded.
Al Gore calls for “civil disobedience” against new coal plants
(09/28/2008) Former Vice President and Nobel Prize winner, Al Gore, told the audience at the Clinton Global Initiative that the moment had arrived for civil disobedience against new coal plants.
How activists and scientists saved a rainforest island from destruction for palm oil
(02/12/2008) In mid-January, Mongabay learned that the government of Papua New Guinea had changed its mind: it would no longer allow Vitroplant Ltd. to deforest 70% of Woodlark Island for palm oil plantations. This change came about after one hundred Woodlark Islanders (out of a population of 6,000) traveled to Alotau, the capital of Milne Bay Province, to deliver a protest letter to the local government; after several articles in Mongabay and Pacific Magazine highlighted the plight of the island; after Eco-Internet held a campaign in which approximately three thousand individuals worldwide sent nearly 50,000 letters to local officials; and after an article appeared in the London Telegraph stating that due to deforestation on New Britain Island and planned deforestation on Woodlark Island, Papua New Guinea had gone from being an eco-hero to an 'eco-zero'.