Earthgauge interviews with James Hansen, Bill McKibben and Maude Barlow from Keystone XL protest in Washington, D.C. [#nokxl]
Click the audio players below to hear my interviews from the Keystone XL protest in Washington, D.C. last weekend with NASA scientist James Hansen; author and activist Bill McKibben and the Council of Canadians’ Maude Barlow.
It was a rare pleasure to have the opportunity to speak with Dr. James Hansen, renowned NASA scientist and one of the world’s leading climatologists. He heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, a part of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University.
Right click here to download the interview (3:18).
If there is one individual who can be credited with building the U.S. climate change movement to the level of influence it has reached today, it is Bill McKibben. In addition to being an author and journalist, McKibben has been a tireless environmental and climate activist. He is the author of several books and is a frequent contributor to various magazines including The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Orion Magazine, Mother Jones, The New York Review of Books, Granta, Rolling Stone, and Outside. He is also a board member and contributor to Grist Magazine.
Right click here to download the interview (1:55).
Maude Barlow is another person I’ve been trying to interview for some time. In our discussion, she is refreshingly upbeat in her assessment of the prospects of stopping both Keystone XL and the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines. Sure enough, mere days after the Keystone protest in D.C., President Obama announced that he would be delaying until 2013 his decision on whether or not to grant a permit to TransCanada to construct the pipeline.
Maude Barlow is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch. She is the recipient of 11 honorary doctorates as well as many awards, including the 2005 Right Livelihood Award, the Citation of Lifetime Achievement and the 2009 Earth Day Canada Outstanding Environmental Achievement Award. In 2008/2009, she served as Senior Advisor on Water to the 63rd President of the United Nations General Assembly and was a leader in the campaign to have water recognized as a human right by the UN. She is also the author of dozens of reports, as well as 16 books, including the international bestseller Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and The Coming Battle for the Right to Water.
Right click here to download the interview (2:50).
Opposition to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline continues to build
I just returned from Washington DC where I was covering an action to pressure President Obama to deny the permit required for TransCanada to construct Keystone XL, a massive, 2700 km pipeline that would transport tar sands crude from northern Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico.
The event was very well-attended, exceeding the expectations of event organizers, Tar Sands Action. Organizers had hoped to encircle the White House with at least 4000 protesters but estimates placed the crowd at somewhere between 10,000-12,000.
In attendance were folks from as far away as Florida, Ohio, California and, for course, Canada. I traveled down from Ottawa on a bus packed with about 50 enthusiastic students from Paul Smiths College in the Adirondacks of upstate New York. 20 hours on a bus over a 48-hour period (including one overnight) is not usually my idea of a good time, but it was well worth the trip.
Below you will find interviews and video from the rally. Highlights included Naomi Klein’s rousing call to arms and her Canadian perspective on both Keystone XL as well as the equally outrageous, proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline to the west coast of B.C. (see video below). Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians gave me a remarkably upbeat assessment of the prospects of stopping Keystone XL in its tracks. Having the chance to speak with leading climatologist and NASA scientist, James Hansen, was also a rare opportunity. In his speech (see video below), Dr. Hansen advocated putting a price on carbon emissions by taxing fossil fuel companies and distributing 100% of the proceeds to the public through a monthly dividend. He also said that one of the most important things people can do is to support the organization Citizens Climate Lobby.
Perhaps most memorable, however, were the many conversations I had with everyday folks from all over North America, from farmers in Nebraska to college kids who helped get Obama elected in ’08 to seniors who were afraid for the future of their grandchildren. People are rightly pissed about this proposed pipeline and many have said they will do “whatever it takes” to stop it. Whatever it takes.
Increasing our dependence on unconventional, dirty oil is not the kind of legacy we should be leaving for future generations. Yes, we need oil for now – nobody denies it. But according to James Hansen, the planet’s most important climate scientist, who was arrested at the White House back in late August/early September – opening up the tar sands to heavy exploitation would mean “it’s essentially game over” for the climate. Building Keystone XL – which Bill McKibben described as “a 1,700-mile fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the continent” – will only only ensure that our oil dependence will continue long into the future, our greenhouse gas emissions will continue to increase and long overdue investments in clean energy technologies will be further delayed.
You may also be interested to hear the comments of Bill McKibben who appeared on Democracy Now the day after the White House action. The battle continues…