Sunday, October 16, 2011

Standing up to Obama, fighting for our future

On October 4, I helped to organize a protest at President Obama’s St. Louis campaign fundraiser, urging him to reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline for Canadian tar sands oil. In August, 1,253 brave people were arrested in acts of civil disobedience outside the White House in order to send the same message: reject the Keystone XL. I was not able to make it to D.C., so I wanted to make my voice heard while the president was in town.

My student group, Green Action, organized the Obama protest because the Keystone XL pipeline threatens our generation’s future. The pipeline would stretch all the way from Alberta, Canada, to Houston and would more than double the amount of oil produced from the tar sand oil fields. The tar sands contain roughly 200 parts per million of carbon; if the oil in the tar sands is refined and burned, NASA climate scientist James Hansen says that it will essentially be “game over” for climate change. But you don’t need to be a climate scientist to already see the changes in our climate: Droughts, floods and food shortages are already occurring throughout the world. Things will get a lot worse if we keep building projects like the Keystone XL, and as young people, we have the most to lose.

While about 30 students did attend the Obama protest, many more students declined to attend because of classes or other obligations. We are all incredibly busy and have many other things to do besides protesting pipelines. But if we don’t speak up for our future, who will? Sometimes, there are more important things than classes to worry about.

There is no Gandhi to lead the movement for a sustainable future. There is no Martin Luther King, Jr. to lead us toward freedom from oil. There is only us. We as a generation must steadfastly choose to work toward a clean energy future. We need the help of people like President Obama, but our leaders will only move toward clean energy if we hold them accountable. The real work lies with us. As Obama himself told us, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”

On Sunday, Nov. 6, thousands of people will converge in D.C. to send President Obama an unmistakable message: preserve our future and block the Keystone XL pipeline. The goal is to gather enough people to encircle the whole White House compound. We need to remind Obama of the power of the movement that he rode to the White House in 2008.

No one has ever organized enough people to encircle the White House, but if enough people show up this will be a moment that President Obama cannot ignore. This movement starts with us, right here at Wash. U. Green Action is organizing a caravan for the Nov. 6 protest, but we need you to attend to help make it historic. Don’t look back in 20 years and regret not standing up against this pipeline. Now is the time to fight for our future.

Will you join us?

Fill out THIS GOOGLE FORM if you are interested in attending the November 6 protest. For updates on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and the Tar Sands action, go

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