By now, the country and the world are familiar with Keystone XL, the pipeline proposed by TransCanada that would take oil from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico for refinement and shipping. Keystone has become a political football being bandied about on both sides and has unwittingly become a hallmark of the Climate Movement. Now with TransCanada’s request to delay the pipeline and the Obama Administration’s rejection of the pipeline we can all move on to the more pressing matters of the Climate movement.
Keystone was a pipeline that revealed the hypocrisy of the GOP in all its glory. For starters, the pipeline would create fewer permanent jobs than the amount of Senators that voted for the project. Second it would use eminent domain— long reviled by conservatives— to take land for the use of a foreign company to ship oil across the nation, none of which we are guaranteed. Such large use of the government clearly undercuts conservatives’ branding as a party of smaller government. Furthermore, the pipeline would have been built over the largest aquifer in the central United States. a spill in that aquifer could do irreparable damage to the aquifer and American agriculture and farming.
But now that the project has been rejected by the Obama White House, a move that invalidated TransCanada’s attempt to wait out the Presidential election and hope for a favorable result, the Climate Movement can move on, and move on it must.
While the struggle against Keystone XL was certainly galvanizing and revealed the coalition of activists ranging from concerned liberal citizens, to First Nations to farmers and landowners and others. But KXL represented only a small skirmish in the overall battle for the Climate. recently we saw kayactivists turn back and delay Shell Oil’s arctic exploration to tremendous effect. Collective action on a global scale is the only measure that can adequately move the bar on climate change.
The current trajectory of the United States is to keep polluting, pretending that an “all of the above” energy policy is somehow a good thing. We will keep subsidizing big oil and allow some states to pass laws and regulations again alternative energy. The fact o the matter is that Climate Change will have a tremendous effect on the American way of life, but more importantly, it will have a huge impact on the rest of the world. With so much of the global population on the coast, flooding and sea level rise will be a tremendous obstacle to societies around the world.
If politicians truly cared about the next generation and their oft quoted phrasing that “This will be the first generation where people think the quality of life will go down” then they need to wrestle with the consequences of their (in)actions and get serious about listening to scientists.These scientists are not, by nature, alarmists. Many would rather sit by in their labs and continue to study the science more and not have to repeatedly try to convince a political class that they aren’t making this shit up.
The first step is for each citizen to understand the ways in which they can change their behavior to be more sustainable. The second, and most important, is direct action that would allow us to keep fossil fuel in the ground, promote sustainability and reverse the disastrous cycle we are on. And the final step is to sustain this new way of thinking and living into the future to counteract some of the worst effects of climate change.