Environmentalist Bill McKibben speaks at Occupy Wall Street
Author and environmentalist Bill McKibben has joined the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in New York City’s Washington Square Park. Last weekend, he talked to the protestors about how alarmed he is about the notorious Tar Sands Pipeline that will carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, all the way through the United States to New Orleans to be put aboard tankers.
McKibben drew the connection between the demonstrators, who are largely concerned with economic issues, and the critical environmental issues he believes underlie the economy.
“The reason that it’s so great that we’re occupying Wall Street is because Wall Street has been occupying the atmosphere,” he said. “They cannot keep using it as a sewer into which to dump their carbon. If they do, we’ve got no future and nobody else on this planet has a future.”
McKibben criticized President Obama for failing to act on environmental promises he made in 2008. “We have to free Obama, because there is some sort of stunt double there now,” he said.
McKibben is co-founder of 350.org, which campaigns to bring carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere down to a safer level of 350 parts per million. He’s also the organizer of the Tar Sands Action movement which protested in Washington, D.C. against the proposed pipeline. He was among the 1,200 people arrested for the sit-in in front of the White House.
He invited the crowd to the next demonstration to be held in D.C.on November 6. “It’s not just a national issue,” he said. “It’s a global issue of the first order.”
Here’s a video of the speech. (The crowd near him repeats each phrase since the police will not allow a speaker system to be used.)
And here’s the text of McKibben’s remarks:
“Today in the New York Times there was a story that made it completely clear why we have to be here. They uncovered the fact that the company building that tar sands pipeline was allowed to choose another company to conduct the environmental impact statement, and the company that they chose was a company that did lots and lots of work for them.
“So, in other words, the whole thing was rigged, top to bottom, and that’s why the environmental impact statement said that this pipeline would cause no trouble, unlike the scientists who said if we build this pipeline it’s “game over” for the climate. We can’t let this pipeline get built.
“On November 6, one year before the election, we’re going to be in DC with a huge circle of people around the White House and they’re going to be carrying signs with quotations from Barack Obama from the 2008 campaign. He said, “It’s time to end the tyranny of oil.” He said, “I will have the most transparent government in history.” We have to go to DC to find out where they have locked that guy up. We have to free Obama, because there is some sort of stunt double there now. So on November 6, I hope we can move, just for a day, Occupy Wall Street down to the White House and get them in the fight against corporate power.
“The reason that it’s so great that we’re occupying Wall Street is because Wall Street has been occupying the atmosphere. That’s why we can never do anything about global warming. Exxon gets in the way. Goldman Sachs gets in the way. The whole fossil fuel industry gets in the way. The sky does not belong to Exxon. They cannot keep using it as a sewer into which to dump their carbon. If they do, we’ve got no future and nobody else on this planet has a future.
“I spend a lot of time in countries around the world organizing demonstrations and rallies in solidarity. In the last three years at 350.org, we’ve had 15,000 rallies in every country except North Korea. Everywhere around the world, poor people and black people and brown people and Asian people and young people are standing up. Most of those places, don’t produce that much carbon. They need us to act with them and for them, because the problem is 20 blocks south of here. That’s where the Empire lives and we’ve got to figure out how to tame it and make it work for this planet or not work at all.
“Thank you guys very much.”
What do you say? Would you reduce your use of fossil fuels to protect the atmosphere? Let us know in a comment or on Facebook.
What you can do: Check out the Tar Sands Action movement, which has details on the proposed pipeline and what you can do to help stop it.