Year 2, Month 9, Day 7: The Odds Are Better In Russian Roulette

Rebecca Buckham and Samuel Smith write in the September 1 Pennsylvania Patriot-News about their experience and motivation for committing civil disobedience at the White House over the tar sands issue:

We were arrested just before noon on Aug. 26 in Washington, D.C. What did we — two normal, law-abiding citizens — do to merit being handcuffed, searched and trundled into police wagons in front of hundreds of people at Lafayette Square?

We joined 57 other normal, law-abiding citizens in a nonviolent act of civil disobedience protesting the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline designed to bring toxic tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to U.S. refineries in Texas. In the week before we were arrested, 322 other citizens were arrested for participating in this tar sands action.
Approving this pipeline will reflect a decision to commit our nation to deadly fossil fuels well into our future.

The nation’s foremost expert in climate science, former NASA chief James Hansen, has said that going forward with toxic tar sands oil means “game over” for our planet. If we commit ourselves to toxic tar sands oil, we put ourselves on a trajectory to turn Earth into a Venus within a few centuries.

I’ve been using that quote for a while now…and I started thinking about it a little differently. Sent September 3:

James Hansen is an exceptional public figure — a scientist of recognized integrity and towering intellectual achievement, and an unimpeachable sense of ethics and responsibility. But his recent statement that burning the oil of the Canadian tar sands would be “game over” for Earth’s climate is profoundly wrong.


Because a game can be replayed if the outcome is unsatisfactory, while a shattered climatic equilibrium will require recovery times on the order of tens of thousands of years. Dr. Hansen’s words are perhaps an attempt to convey a terrifying truth in language that’s easier for our politicians and media figures to grasp — and for that he is to be commended; America’s ADD-formed political culture is ill-equipped to deal with long-term threats. But if Earth’s future is a “game,” then our lives and those of countless generations to come are at stake — and our opponents are cheating.

Warren Senders

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