Dear friends across America,
Right now, hundreds of people are being arrested in Washington, DC in a historic wave of peaceful civil disobedience -- the biggest such environmental protest in a generation.
Why this outcry? Because President Obama faces a crucial decision that will shape the earth's climate for decades: whether to reject the notoriously destructive Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry nearly a million barrels of tar-sand oil each day from Canada to refineries in Texas.
Canada's tar sands are the world's second-biggest pool of carbon, and NASA's top climate scientist says that burning them would be "essentially game over" for the climate. But the pipeline can only be built if Obama certifies that it's in our "national interest." So the demonstrators are building a massive appeal to the president -- and they'll deliver our signatures as the protests reach their climax tomorrow. Click to sign on:
Environmentalist Bill McKibben says the oil in these tar sands is the contintent's "biggest carbon bomb." And getting oil out of tar sands is even dirtier than regular oil drilling: It requires strip-mining whole fields, creating lakes of toxic sludge, and just extracting it produces two to four times as many greenhouse gases as regular oil.
Scientists also worry that the Keystone XL pipeline could leak, poisoning the Ogallala Aquifier, the largest underground source of drinking water in the United States. The last Keystone pipeline, built last year, has already had at least a dozen spills.
Over 800 committed demonstrators have already been arrested, from grandmothers and first-time activists to movie stars like Daryl Hannah and scientists like Dr. James Hansen. Obama's press secretary is being asked about it at briefings and the protests have received floods of national media attention.
Our signatures will join those collected by huge coalition of environmental groups, including Avaaz's friends at 350, for a massive, high-profile delivery at the White House tomorrow. Let's make this too big to ignore:
Sometimes, climate change can feel too massive to affect. But in this moment, with this pipeline, the stroke of the president's pen can make a gigantic difference. And whether we win or lose each day, it's up to us to keep fighting -- to show up when it counts, every time.
Long from now, when the story of this era is written, the movement that beat climate change will be traced through our fingertips, through the widening circles of solidarity for those most at risk, and through the sacrifice and vision of those who led the way. The echoes of our actions will one day build to a mighty roar.
Ben, Iain, Ricken, Brianna, Morgan, David, and the whole Avaaz.org team
PS: If you're in the DC area, or can make it there, check out www.tarsandsaction.org for more ways to get involved. If not, though, please do show your solidarity by signing the petition!
USA Today: Hundreds arrested during pipeline protest at White House
James Hansen: tar sands would be "game over" for climate
McKibben: tar sands are "the great American carbon bomb"