Climate Change and Civil Disobedience

At 11:30 AM eastern time today, an act of "civil disobedience will take place around at the East Gate of the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, just east of the picture-postcard zone." #NoKXL is the hashtag.

It is time, apparently. This is a time when more of the money that is out there is in the hands of a very small number of people and corporations, and many of these people and corporations are paying to maintain the status quo, and that status quo involves keeping our economy, or society, our species firmly planted on a track leading to the edge of a very tall cliff. Not the fiscal cliff or some other cliff, but the climate cliff. Science, common sense, and basic moral responsibility tell us that we need to change direction and now, even the President of the United States is telling us that. But very little has been done, compared to what could have been done, to slow down and eventually reverse direction towards what is clearly a major disaster, or really, multiple disasters which will compete with each other to see which of many bad scenarios ends up being the worst scenario.

So, people are taking to the streets. This just came out:

Sierra Club, and Commited Citizens to Engage in Civil Disobedience Today at White House to Stop Tar Sands, Keystone XL pipeline

Wednesday, February 13 at 10:45 AM ET

Fifty American leaders–including Michael Brune (Sierra Club), Bill McKibben (, Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr. (Hip Hop Caucus), civil rights legend Julian Bond, actress Daryl Hannah, Nebraska rancher Randy Thompson and others on the frontlines of climate change–will risk arrest in front of the White House to demonstrate the depth of their support for decisive action against climate change. For the first time in its 120-year history, the Sierra Club will participate in this civil disobedience action to convey the severity and urgency of action on climate.

2012 was the hottest year on record, half the country is in severe drought, and Superstorm Sandy just flooded the greatest city in the world–New York. A global crisis unfolds before our eyes and immediate action is required. President Obama has the executive authority to make a significant and immediate impact on carbon pollution, and he can begin by saying no to Big Oil by rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.Civil disobedience is the response of ordinary people to extraordinary injustices. Americans have righted the wrongs of our society – slavery, child labor, suffrage, segregation, and inequality for gays and immigrant workers – with creative nonviolent resistance. Climate change threatens the health and security of all Americans, and action proportional to the problem is required–now.

Details, Contact Information, Etc. are HERE Here is a letter written by the participants in this action:

We’re here today to show the depth of our resolve that President Obama take immediate, decisive action against climate change—to show that if the president leads, the vast majority of Americans will rally behind him. We’re not here today to protest the president, we are here to encourage and support him. We lived through horrors of Superstorm Sandy, the Midwest drought, wildfires, and the hottest year on record: we know in our bones that the time has come to do more than we have, and all that we can.

The president can’t work miracles by himself. An obstructionist Congress stands in the way of progress and innovation. But President Obama has the executive authority and the mandate from the American people to stand up to the fossil fuel industry, and to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline right now.

And we’re here to show something else—that the movement for a clean energy revolution is a broad and powerful one. In 2011 we were moved by the 1,253 Americans who went jail to protest Keystone in the biggest civil disobedience action in many years in this country. Today we are 50 people at the White House representing millions of Americans in every state, in every community. Today we risk arrest because a global crisis unfolds before our eyes. We have the solutions to this climate crisis. We have a moral obligation to stand stand for immediate, bold action to solve climate disruption. We can do it, and we will.

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This is so obnoxious.

I know I wasn't the only one who got the release from the Sierra Club that they had decided to undertake a civil disobedience action that was BY INVITATION ONLY and reacted by saying WTF?? And now I see it's not just the Sierra Club insiders, it's others "on the frontlines of climate change".

This pathetic velvet cord, status-seeking mentality is constantly on display in so-called progressive movements. It's been called out in many organizations, including at supposedly horizontal OWS, and was flagrant at the demonstration last week in New York to support Hedge's suit against the NDAA.

Well, it's only human nature I suppose so there's not much point complainting about it, except it's going to be the death of us because nobody will tell the Emperors that they have no clothes.

Targeting the pipeline is pointless and was always a poor choice as climate strategy. Obama is going to approve it - he was just waiting until after the election - because it's part of a geo-political, anti-Venezuela move that Kerry will support because he hates Chavez. Likewise a campus divestment campaign is silly. The only thing that would help would be massive conservation and rationing of fuel but Gang Green won't talk about that (or overpopulation).…

By Gail Zawacki (not verified) on 13 Feb 2013 #permalink

Nonviolent civil disobedience is exactly what's needed, and this action and its message are excellent. Next time, it would be appropriate to take it to Congress. What I'd love to see is a great big sit-in right in Jim Inhofe's office: polite as can be, but persistent as bees at a picnic. Inhofe and the rest of his ilk should be made to squirm on camera, to the point where they start losing their composure and saying what's _really_ on their minds. After that, keep ramping up the pressure into the mid-term elections, with a list of Representatives and Senators to be replaced, and a list to be supported. Make every vote count.

As for Gail's comment: I'm in Oakland California and I saw first hand what happened when protests turned into free-for-alls: violence, vandalism, and the destruction of the most visible components of the Occupy movement itself. So Gail, I know the context for your rhetoric and I'm calling it out as a crock of bovine excrement.