Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A New Environmental Movement Breeds Hope for the Future

Something is happening to the environmental movement that is giving us reason to hope that we may succeed in changing our current trajectory. On Sunday February 17th, 35,000 people came together to demand action in the face of a growing climate crisis. Part of this burgeoning climate activism is attributable to people's first hand exposure to extreme weather. Droughts, hurricanes, snowstorms and wildfires are forcing people to recognize that our climate is changing and they are increasingly coming to the understanding that we must act now.
As Greenpeace director Philip Radford wrote about those gathered at the Climate Forward Rally, "a new, diverse coalition of Americans," are coming together to demand climate justice.

The nation is rallying around the President and demanding that he keep the promises he made in both his inaugural address and his State of the Union speech. However, if he is to keep his word he will need the support of the American people. Powerful interests are arrayed against us, trillions of dollars are at stake and those who seek to keep the old energy economy alive are proficient at manipulating the public trust.

Supporters of climate legislation were defeated in the President's first term but we cannot afford to allow that to happen again in the next four years.

We cannot succeed in changing the national direction without changing public opinion, and the climate rally in Washington D.C. may be the first step towards four years of unprecedented climate action in the US.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that we cannot sustain the current rate at which we burn fossil fuels and we certainly cannot add to the carbon catastrophe by exploiting even more of Alberta's tar sands. If we are to have a livable future we must end our addiction to fossil fuels and redouble our efforts to develop more sources of renewable energy.

Change will only come if President Obama can muster the courage and summon the political leadership to amend his "all of the above" energy strategy. It starts with the politically difficult decision of rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline. If he can garner the support of the American people the President may move on to arrest Arctic drilling, stop coal exports and perhaps even end the nations growing reliance on fracking for natural gas.

The new environmental movement gives us reason to hope that we may be able to bring about the kind of change we so desperately need.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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