Activists circle the White House; Obama plays golf

Mainstream media reports that some 8,000 people showed up in Washington D.C. today to link hands around the White House to protest the Keystone XL pipeline and the development of the Alberta boreal forest (aka “tar sands”).

The energy and determination of this crowd is wonderful. But It’s heartbreaking to learn that President Obama “missed most of the protest while he played golf at Fort Belvoir in Virginia.”

Last week I went for a walk on a golf course near my home, and was reminded again of how terrible these private parks are for the environment.

If lawns are destructive monocultures, just imagine the exponential scale of the golf mono-lanscape: acres and acres of closely cropped, artificially bright green  turf, with not a single broad-leaved plant to be seen.

Golf parks are anathema to butterflies and other insects, of course, since they are regularly treated with pesticides and herbicides.  They suck up precious water for a use that is 100% non-necessary: a pleasant game for the 1%.

I admit it, golf courses are one of my pet peeves.  I have never liked them, and never will.  So I suppose it was a sort of trigger to hear that Obama was off golfing this afternoon, instead of paying his respects to the thousands of activists streaming into Washington to communicate with him–the man we sent to represent us in the White House.

He is not the first American President to dodge attempts by the citizenry to communicate our wishes.  I think of President Bush off on his ranch while activists like Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey died in the Iraq War, tried to send him an anti-war message.

Mr. President, if your citizens make the effort to go all the way to Washington DC to speak with you, I think the least you could do is show up.  We are depending on you to make the right decision on the tar sands/pipeline issue, which is clearly NO PIPELINE, and no development of the boreal forest.

We expect you to make a decision in favor of the health and well-being of your citizens.  Instead of investing in tired, dirty old energy platforms like oil and pipelines, we should be investing in solar and geothermal.  We need an Apollo Project for renewable energy, and we need it now!

Sure, you deserve your R&R on a Sunday afternoon, Mr. President.  But if you make the wrong call on this issue, those luxurious golf courses you enjoy may soon be relics of the wasteful bygone days.

Future social historians might point to golf as one of the many foolish 20th century habits that left us crouching bewildered in the 21st century in the midst of a full-blown climate crisis.

You’re the Decider now, Mr. President.  We are expecting you to make the right decision–for your precious children, and ours.

Climate Change Blues: The one thing the 100% of us have in common is that we can’t afford to ignore the weather!

President Obama, venturing outside during last night’s storm, called the weather “less than ideal” for trick-or-treating.

What an understatetment.

Here’s what it looks like at my house in western Massachusetts this morning:

All those trees in the background are tall maples, bent over with the weight of snow on their leaves.  So far no big limbs have snapped, but that could change any moment, and many of them are hanging over an outbuilding and my car….

So the question we should all be asking this morning is whether this freak October snowstorm is just an aberration, or if it’s part of a developing and accelerating pattern of climate change.

Yes, there have been October snowstorms before.  But has there been a three-month period before with record high temperatures (August), record rainfall (September), a hurricane hit to the entire East Coast (Irene) AND a record-breaking snowstorm?

Not being a meterologist, I can’t answer this question, but I’d sure like to know.

One thing I do know is that if we don’t start reducing carbon emissions, weather events like this are going to become more frequent and more severe.  This is not “Day After Tomorrow” hysteria, this is scientific truth.

So again, the question becomes, what can we DO?

Well, next weekend in Washington DC there will be an action at the White House; the plan is to assemble enough people to make a linked-arms ring around the White House, in the hopes of persuading President Obama to stand with the people on the anti-tar sands extraction, anti-Keystone pipeline issue, rather than with the energy corporations.

You can hear actor Mark Ruffalo explain it here:

My hope is that weather events like last night’s “freak” snowstorm will raise people’s awareness about the reality of climate change, and how it will affect all of us–our food supply, our physical security, our ability not just to carry on as usual, but to carry on at all.

All of us–the rich, the poor, the inbetween–the 100% of us, and not just in the US but in the world, are already feeling the effects of manmade climate change.  We’ll be feeling it increase exponentially in the coming months and years.

So all of us need to step off the path of least resistance and start demanding government support for a huge Apollo Project-style transition to sustainable energy and a serious commitment to energy conservation.

If you can’t get to Washington DC next Sunday for the demonstration at the White House, you can be part of the virtual ring that will surround the people on the ground there, and build support wherever you are for the movement for responsible and caring stewardship of our Earth.

We cannot afford to ignore these issues any longer.

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