There’s a piece of mine on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine today that I think may be the most important writing I’ve done since The End of Nature, way back in 1989. (And no, it’s not the profile of Justin Bieber)
Warning: it’s pretty long, and it’s not entirely cheerful. Indeed, it shows that the business plans of the fossil fuel industry will wreck the planet — that they’ve already got enough carbon in their reserves to drive the heat past anyone’s definition of okay.
If you read it, you’ll get a sense of the direction 350.org is headed.
I’ll be hosting a video chat early next week to help cover all of these topics – in particular Keystone and the article I just released – and if you’d like to join that particular conversation, I’m told you can RSVP by clicking here: act.350.org/sign/bill-video-chat-july/
In the meantime: as we see it, we’ve got iconic battles underway in every part of the country, and against all the forms of fossil fuel. And they’re beginning to coalesce into a true movement against the heart of this most dangerous industry.
1) Keystone XL.
Centered along the pipeline route in the middle of the country, this battle against opening Canada’s vast tarsands has been in a holding pattern for a while, but that’s changing. On the southern half of the pipeline, our friends in Texas are actively planning for civil disobedience. Meanwhile, thanks to your efforts, a narrow Congressional plurality has blocked GOP attempts to force through the northern half of the pipeline this year. Now the ball is back in the State Department’s court — and so far they’re fumbling it. They need to conduct a new review, but they’ve not even agreed to look at the climate effects of the project (my take on how Sec. of State Hillary Clinton is mishandling this particular issue is here). We’re going to need your help to put pressure on them — and also to help mobilize against metastasizing tarsands pipelines, like the so-called Trailbreaker project across New England. Mitt Romney has promised opening Keystone will be his first act; we’re by no means certain Obama wouldn’t bend to corporate power either. We may need to go back to jail; no matter what, we’ll do our best to keep figuring out the incredibly murky Washington politics and trying to work out useful plans.
2) Coal ports.
Stymied by great organizing against coal-fired power in this country, the mining giants are scouting new markets in Asia — and building the ports along the Pacific to let them send that carbon overseas to be burned. People are mobilizing effectively to try and block those plans (and three coal-train derailments last week made it a little clearer to everyone what a bad plan this is). Meanwhile, mountaintop removal foes continue to press their case across Appalachia. Together we’ve all managed to blacken coal’s name considerably, and we can’t let up.
Opposition to fracking for gas has been loudest along the East Coast, atop the Marcellus Shale. We’ve been working in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York (and other places, like Vermont, where a statewide ban on fracking was enacted this spring). Given the deep pockets of the gas companies it’s a hard battle, but you’d be amazed at the depth of the local organizing; the drillers are being met by an aroused citizenry wherever they go!
So — oil, coal, gas; Midwest; Pacific; East. These fights are all crucial, but they’re also all part of the much larger battle, which is against carbon in the atmosphere. We’ve got to fight them all, but we can’t win one pipeline or port at a time. We’ve also got to change the basic ground rules.
Which is why we’re also engaged, right through election day, in the fight against fossil fuel subsidies. It’s gaining momentum — almost 60 Senators and Representatives have signed on in support of the Sanders/Ellison bill to end the giveaways to the richest industry on earth. Teams of people are fanning out across the country this week and next to ask their public officials: “Where do you stand on removing fossil fuel subsidies?”
All this activity is playing out, of course, against the backdrop of one of the greatest heatwaves and droughts in American history, a constant reminder just how high the stakes are. People are noticing — the polling indicates steady increases in concern about climate change — and now our job is to build that diffuse sentiment into a strong movement.
I’m awfully glad you’re a part of this movement, and hope you’re managing to stay cool.
On we go,
Bill McKibben for the crew at 350.org
P.S. And if you have reactions to and thoughts about that Rolling Stone piece please send them in to “firstname.lastname@example.org“. The analysis — the math — that’s in there is going to form the basis of a lot of our work going forward, and it would be useful to hear how it strikes you.