Now that the Senate turned thumbs down on the Keystone XL Pipeline, it’s time to celebrate a big win for the environment. It was just last fall that Bil MCKibben warned that, “It’s game over for slowing climate change, if we proceed with the Tar Sands XL Keystone Pipeline.” So says Bill McKibben of 350.org quoting NASA scientist James Hansen. Back in November, McKibben invited people to join him at the White House for the Tar Sands action, calling it “the flashpoint for environmental protection.”
“I thank you for being part of the major movement of our time, a once in a civilization crisis,” affirmed leading environmentalist, David W. Orr, author of Down to the Wire. He thinks Americans need a reminder of the basic lessons we all learned in kindergarten (courtesy of Robert Fulghum’s well-known book.)
“You don’t leave a mess for someone else to clean up.”
“You share your cookies. You don’t hoard wealth.”
“Be kind to each other,”
“Hold hands crossing the street.”
Back in November, McKibben’s Tar Sands Action gave people e the chance to hold hands surrounding the White House, and to ask President Obama to live up to his campaign promise to “end the tyranny of oil,” by saying no to Tar Sands.
“Our job is to make it easier for him to make the right decision.” McKibben told the crowd at a Green Festival LA I attended (and spoke at) in October 2011. (McKibben on radio about this here.)
Gathered at the L.A. Convention Center to access green wisdom, films, tools, jobs, foods, buildings, techniques, activities, products and social media (offered in twelve stages and endless aisles of booths) those assembled were welcomed by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Environmental champions, like McKibben, Orr, Amy Goodman, Dolores Huerta, John Perkins, David Korten, Marianne Williamson, Lisa J. Ling, Jodie Evans, Pandora Thomas, Hill Harper, Jessie Carmichael, Atossa Soltani, Reverend Lennox Yearwood., and yours truly offered insight addressing interlocking concerns.
“Some say people can’t handle the truth that we’re speeding into planetary destabilization. But when London was bombed during WWII, Churchill didn’t go on TV and say this is a great thing. No! He spoke of blood and sweat and tears. We’re ready for the truth — we can act,” Orr urged.
“We can all go there together, through the grief and anger — we can transform the threat into effective action,” affirmed CodePink’s Jodie Evans.
Bringing the world to the brink of environmental ruin, Orr called, “The largest market failure in history.”
John Perkins, author of Hoodwinked, agreed, explaining that, “Less than 5 percent of the world populace live in the U.S. and we consume 25 percent of the resources. That’s not a model, it’s a failure. In predatory capitalism, corporations are driven by one goal — to maximize profits whatever the human and environmental costs.
“”It’s class war,” said David Korten, author of The Great Turning.
“As America slips into decline, we’re creating more billionaires? Why? The government should be regulating and taxing excess wealth, rather than subsidizing and protecting them,” Korten said, supporting the voices now raised thanks to OccupyWallStreet.
David Orr shook his head. “Some people aren’t sharing their cookies,” he commented.
“The media is broken — we’ve got to take that back,” Perkins further urged. “The sina qua non of democracy is a free press.”
Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman recently won a landmark case for her wrongful and violent arrest at the Minneapolis Republican Convention.
“Police must be put on notice. When reporters are told to turn off video cameras, that’s when they must turn them on,” she said. The press has a special job — to hold those in power accountable. And we cannot be inhibited from covering the movements that make history.”
“Violence is a religion in the U.S. We call assassination a policy.” said Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers. “There’s a culture of violence around us. Violence against the dignity of people. Violence against our planet.”
“Our economy is based on killing people,” Perkins agreed. “The corporations — we work for them, buy from them, tell them I want cheap petroleum, and that means looking the other way at what they do. We can’t afford this. We need an economy based on cleaning up planet.”
“All people need access to clean air, water, and food,” Orr pointed out, naming the mounting crisis as an economic, ethical, and political failure to grapple with reality. “It’s a failure of leadership to take these issues seriously.”
“I wonder what the world will be when my grandson’s my age,” mused Perkins. “He can only have a safe and healthy world if every child has it. For the first time we’re interdependent. Every sentient being on this planet must be respected.”
Quoting Thomas Berry on what he called “the Great Work,” Orr said, “No one asks for it. They do that work because that work is given to them. Our work is taking back this country. ”
“None of us can do this alone — we all must do it together,” urged Alissa Gravitz, Executive Director of Green America.
Orr quoted the Dalai Lama, “It’s important to pray and meditate for peace and a better time but if that is all you do, it’s a waste of time. You also must take actions every day to create a sustainable peace and better world.”