The world could change this month.
Our federal leaders, as usual, seem poised to give the fossil fuel industry what it wants. TransCanada has proposed building an oil pipeline from Alberta’s tar sands down to Texas. According to scientists and environmentalists, refining the dirty oil from this source causes carbon emissions far higher than conventional oil, and committing to burning the oil from this massive source sets us on a dangerous path.
James Hansen, a leading climatologist, said any chance of stabilizing our climate requires that “coal emissions must be phased out by 2030 and unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands, must be left in the ground. ... If the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over.”
At this point the risk remains — both for our planetary community suffering under increased stress from carbon emissions and for the many directly affected by the pipeline’s construction (including, in an all too common pattern, First Nations communities).
But the political equation could soon change.
Visionaries including Wendell Berry, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben and Wes Jackson have joined with indigenous leaders, scientists and others to call on President Barack Obama to refuse a permit for the line, which he has the sole authority to do. In an online invitation, they have also called on people from across the country to join them in Washington, D.C., for what could be a historical moment.
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