The White House & Tar Sands

From Climate Story Tellers:

By James E. Hansen
September 2, 2011

Tar Sands Action organized a civil disobedience sit–in at The White House to oppose construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that began on August 20 and will culminate in a big rally on September 3rd. On August 29 I joined 60 religious leaders and other fellow protestors. I was arrested that day. But before I was handcuffed, I addressed fellow activists who had gathered outside The White House with these words:

Let us return for a moment to the election night in 2008. As I sat in our farmhouse in Pennsylvania, watching Barack Obama’s victory speech, I turned my head aside so my wife would not see the tears in my eyes. I suspect that millions cried. It was a great day for America.

We had great hopes for Barack Obama — perhaps our dreams were unrealistic — he is only human. But it is appropriate, it is right, in a period honoring Martin Luther King, to recall the hopes and dreams of that evening.

We had a dream — that the new President would understand the intergenerational injustice of human–made climate change — that he would recognize our duty to be caretakers of creation, of the land, of the life on our planet — and that he would give these matters the priority that our young people deserve.

We had a dream — that the President would understand the commonality of solutions for energy security, national security and climate stability — and that he would exercise hands–on leadership, taking the matter to the public, avoiding backroom crippling deals with special interests.

We had a dream — that the President would stand as firm as Abraham Lincoln when he faced the great moral issue of slavery — and, like Franklin Roosevelt or Winston Churchill, he would speak with the public, enlisting their support and reassuring them.

Perhaps our dreams were unrealistic. It is not easy to find an Abraham Lincoln or a Winston Churchill. But we will not give up. There can be no law or regulation that stops us from acting on our dreams.

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