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The Most Important Thing You Can Do

Client deniers be damned, this is science and it is time for every one of us to own up to our personal responsibility to put a stop to it.

In September 2011 I went to Washington, DC at the invitation of Mr. Bill
McKibben. It was a day and experience that changed my life. It was the day I was
arrested at the White House in the 1st Tar Sands Action. And nothing has ever
been the same. As Robby from 350.org had warned us in the pre-arrest training,
“…for some of you, this will become an addiction.” It certainly has for me.
Since that day, I have become wholly focused on helping find ways to win the
fight to reduce consumption of fossil fuels and begin a strategic conversion to
renewable energy sources.

Last night, I went to the 350.org“Do The Math” event in Philadelphia. I am writing this on the bus to Washington, DC, to hear it again and to take part in the 3rd Tar Sands Action, the “Stop the Keystone XL” march to the White House, our reminder to President Obama, we have not forgotten about this pipeline. And once again, I feel my life changing, “How many of us get to say we are doing the most important thing we could be doing?” And once again, Bill McKibben is changing my life.

This isn’t a joke. It isn’t hyperbole. We aren’t exaggerating. It is time to do the
math. Face facts. Pay the piper. See the reality of our situation and stop
buying into the billion dollar ad campaign sponsored by the Natural Gas Alliance
and American Petroleum Institute to convince us that dirty, dangerous oil
& gas could ever be “clean’ or “safe”.

Just last week there was another explosion on an oil drilling platform. A few weeks ago another neighborhood exploded. People died in both. Every day a pipeline somewhere is leaking. We will have more oil spills. We will have more natural gas explosions. We will have more drought, wildfires, floods and devastation. More people will die. Unless we put a stop to it.


How? What can you do? It is simple really. Check your portfolio. Check your bank, college, city, school district and other organizations you belong to. Check if you or
they have investments in oil & gas. And ask them to divest.


Yes, divest. The tactic used by anti-Apartheid activists. Insisting our money not support anti-ethical companies. In this case, insisting our money not support companies whose business model will radically impact our planet. You see fossil fuel companies have one goal, to make as much money for as long as they can before they run out of stock. They know that their total reserves of 2,795 gigatons is far beyond the 565 gigatons of emissions that would be within the “safety” zone before our planet sees an increase in temperature of more than 2 degrees.

And don’t for one minute think a 2 degree increase in temperature is not a big deal. So far, in the milions of years this planet has existed and the relatively short time man has been a part of the flora and fauna, we have seen only a 1 degree increase in planetary temperature.

Did you see the devastation of Sandy on the New Jersey coast, New York City, Breezy Point and other areas? That monster of a perfect storm is about to become the norm unless we change our ways, and quickly. Client deniers be damned, this is science and it is time for every one of us to own up to our personal responsibility to put a stop to it.

What can you do? What can we do? Divest. Call your college, meet with your banker, talk to your friends, ask at your school board meeting, does the investment portfolio include any funds to oil, gas and coal? If the answer is yes, start a campaign to have them divest.


Another thing we need to do is run for school board and town council, get elected and then we can make sure our tax-funded public employee pensions are not supporting the eventual planetary meltdown fossil fuels can’t help but cause. Next time your college or university contacts you for a donation, ask them if they are invested in fossil fuels? Let them know your donation is contingent upon them divesting all investments in oil &gas.

We need to do two things, shut down the flow of money to the fossil fuel industry and second, reduce our consumption in a meaningful and strategic way.

How do we do that? A good place to start, now that I’ve got you on school board, is to convert our schools to renewable energy. This will accomplish so many goals. Reduce consumption. Cut costs. Reduce deficits. Balance budgets. Create jobs. And on a national scale, it will necessitate updating our grid and enhance our national security.


So why aren’t we doing this? Could it have to do with the fact that just one CEO at just one of the big oil companies is making $100,000 per day. Yes, PER DAY! It might also have to do with the fact that the industry is spending $40,000 per day on lobbying Congress. And guess where most of that money is being spent? Let’s ask John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell.


While you are asking questions, ask them why the oil & gas industry is entitled to such special treatment and why hydraulic fracturing is exempt from the Clean Air, Clean Water & Safe Drinking Water Acts? The extreme extraction of fossil fuels has been operating with this exemption ever since Dick Cheney bestowed what is called the “Halliburton Loophole” on the industry practice known as fracking.

So no, we are not exaggerating, and we can’t do this without you. We are faced with a monumental task. One that may seem overwhelming, but the costs of inaction are incalculable losses in terms of life and our planet. We can do this. You can do this. We have to do this.

Visit 350.org for more info and to sign on to the campaign. And join us at www.themothersproject.org for information on how to run for school board and town council.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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