Last fall, Bill McKibben, Phil Radford and I issued a letter calling on people of conscience to take direct action to amplify the demands of the climate movement. Of course, we were far from the only people making that call -- the outcry for solutions to the climate catastrophe looming over us has been loud and clear for years. But what I'm witnessing in D.C. right now is on a different level altogether: The outcry has become an uproar.
In mid-June, when organizing started for what would become the Tar Sands Action at the White House, I thought it would be an important act of protest. But this has become something much more. It is the largest act of civil disobedience on the environment this generation has ever seen and a pivotal moment for the U.S. on climate change.
Today I spoke to a woman named Julie, a landowner from Nebraska who is the last person in her county to refuse to sign over her land for the pipeline. She's never been to a protest, much less been arrested. But she told me that she just had to come because the stakes are so high. Likewise Eleanor, a landowner from Texas, who said defiantly: "I am much more worried about the Keystone Pipeline and the damage it could do to our climate than I am about my children being left with a deficit."
By some estimates, as many as two-thirds of the folks who have been arrested since the sit-ins began two weeks ago have never participated in anything like this -- and yet they gave up their own time and spent their own money to voice their opposition to Keystone XL and tar sands oil. This is what a movement looks like.
The movement to stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has become symbolic of our struggle to avert climate catastrophe, and it's breaking through and gaining momentum. Here's how we know that the tide is turning:
Stopping the Keystone XL pipeline is an essential part of transitioning this country off fossil fuels. American citizens are voting for green energy with their dollars in increasing numbers. This month, California-based Sungevity sold 2MW of solar systems. To put that in perspective, 10 years ago the entire State of California had just 10MW installed. Total. The clean energy revolution is underway -- now we need our government to do its part.
With these protests, the Keystone XL pipeline has become the current symbol, the line-in-the-sand for the climate movement. If we stand on that line together, and succeed, I believe it will have ripple effects across our entire struggle.
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