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Biggest climate civil disobedience in US history

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

The other day at the Taste of Green event, a fellow I know who works over at the San Francisco Greenpeace office told me about a huge civil disobedience event they're planning.  In a nut shell, over 2,500 people are going to go in their Sunday best to risk arrest in peaceful protest over global warming.  On March 2nd, they will be marching on the Capitol Power Plant (owned by Congress) which burns coal to power some of the Capitol Hill buildings.


Here's part of the press release:

The Capitol Climate Action Coalition announced today that more than 2,500 people have registered to participate in the March 2 Capitol Power Plant protest, ensuring that it will be the largest act of peaceful civil disobedience on global warming in the country’s history.

In attendance, and willing to risk arrest, will be former coal miners, ministers, mothers, students, and climate activists from Arizona to Appalachia who have united to demand bold and far-reaching action on the climate and energy crises. Also attending will be leaders from the scientific and environmental community, such as Dr. James Hansen, Bill McKibben, Wendell Berry, Gus Speth, Vandana Shiva, former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, as well as Grammy winner Kathy Mattea and actress Daryl Hannah. More than 90 advocacy groups across the nation have endorsed the action.

This is a critical year for strong U.S. leadership on climate and energy, with a major domestic policy debate around the corner and a deadline for international action set for the Copenhagen UN climate talks in December. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has cautioned that the United States and other industrialized countries need to reduce their global warming pollution by 25 – 40 % below 1990 levels by 2020 to avoid the worst impacts of severe climate change.

Leading climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, who will join the protest and is willing to get arrested, has testified before Congress that the world must begin phasing out coal immediately to avoid the worst impacts of global warming, including severe economic impacts. The climate crisis, if left unaddressed, is projected to put a serious billion drag on the U.S. economy by 2025.

“This is just the moment to up the ante,” said Bill McKibben, professor and founder of “"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.’”

The Capitol Power Plant, which is owned by Congress, burns coal to heat and cool numerous buildings on Capitol Hill, and has become a powerful symbol of coal’s stranglehold on the environment and public health. Coal is the country’s biggest source of global warming pollution. In addition, burning coal cuts short at least 24,000 lives in the U.S. annually, inflicts severe damage to the landscape and water supplies, and jeopardizes the lives of miners.

post #2 of 6

Interesting mix of people involved, although I would hope the event is not relying on "star power" to draw attention.  This works but dilutes the message.  Most in the environmental community know Hansen and McKibben, and their credibility is solid so this may be a fairly effective way of getting the public's attention on the issue.


Still, 2,500 people is not enough to really get them the media coverage they need to get the message out.  Hopefully the numbers will come up as the word gets out.


A quote from a rep from Greenpeace speaks volumes:


"This demonstration marks the beginning of a sustained effort to draw a line in the sand against this dirty and dangerous fuel," said Matt Leonard of Greenpeace who is helping to organize the protest. "Our leaders cannot promise us a healthy and prosperous future as long as coal is polluting our soil, water and atmosphere."


I am all about the link!



Edited by amyloc - Thu, 26 Feb 2009 00:40:55 UTC
post #3 of 6

The deniers are all over the fact that Hansen supports this civil disobedience, saying  he should be fired from NASA, etc.  Not that anyone cares what they think.


It will be really interesting to see how many people show up and what happens.

post #4 of 6

Re the deniers claim that Hansen's support is cause for dismissal: his background, the current and future world environment and the situation with the Capitol Power Plant make his support an act of patriotism, in my opinion.  I submit that this is not a selfish act, or a foolhardy one.  Simply said, America cannot lead by example until it gets its own house in order.

post #5 of 6

Oh I totally agree.  Hansen understands the need for swift action on climate change better than most people on the planet.  If he feels that scientific findings and recommendations alone haven't succeeded in convincing politicians to take sufficiently swift action, then I see no problem in him supporting an act of civil disobedience.  I particularly appreciate that he's willing to participate in it himself.

post #6 of 6

Good news on this story, as Climate Progress reports:


No doubt spurred on by the impending civil disobedience, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) posted a statement and a letter on her blog (here):


Today, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent the following letter to the Acting Architect of the Capitol, Stephen T. Ayers, asking that the Capitol Power Plant (CPP) use 100 percent natural gas for its operations. They write, “the switch to natural gas will allow the CPP to dramatically reduce carbon and criteria pollutant emissions, eliminating more than 95 percent of sulfur oxides and at least 50 percent of carbon monoxide… We strongly encourage you to move forward aggressively with us on a comprehensive set of policies for the entire Capitol complex and the entire Legislative Branch to quickly reduce emissions and petroleum consumption through energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean alternative fuels.”

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