“…People would chant, ‘Yes, we can stop the pipeline,’ surrounded the White House with 15,000 people, sort of five deep, shoulder to shoulder. A few days after that, he said, ‘OK we’ll take a year and study this." -Bill McKibben, co-founder and director of 350.org
The current administration is in the midst of approving a key leg of the Keystone XL pipeline that will bring tar sands from Canada down through the Midwest to refineries in the gulf coast to be processed into usable oil. The pipeline is referring to the construct of a transcontinental pipeline to bring the tar sands down south. And tar sands are exactly what it sounds like a tar and sand mixture that when heated can produce a percentage of oil. An open session for public comments is underway by the US Department of State. In an administration that champions cleaner and alternate forms of renewable energy the construction of the pipeline is a very big step, in the wrong direction.
There is increasing public outcry to stop the extent to which human activity pollutes and endangers the environment not to mention the concrete research to back said outcries. Groups such as 350.org and Greenpeace have been protesting throughout the country and internationally against agendas like creating this pipeline.
A UN leaked document states that human activity is accountable for 99% of climate change. The CO2 index for earth is currently the most in recordable history. Creating an avenue in order to extract more oil and ship in down the country only exacerbates the problems we already face.
In addition, more frequent and greater natural disasters are results of climate change. Typhoon Haiyan is the most powerful storm ever to land in the world and completely leveled much of the Philippines. That was a grave marker of things to come if action is not taken. I remember a presidential candidate saying in St. Paul Minnesota back in 2008:
'I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.'Less than two years ago rising sea levels from Hurricane Sandy devastated the north east causing destruction never before seen in many areas. The "unprecedented", "biblical", floods in Colorado this past year and record droughts in California, that will likely lead to another horrible season of forest fires, are another couple of examples. These things are warning signs of climate change and if human pollution (largely in the form of carbon emissions is not stopped severe things are to come. Constructing the Keystone XL pipeline is not a move in the right direction but a move to accelerate this global climate crisis.
Humans are gravely being impacted by these natural disasters, people are being displaced, the landscape is being altered, millions of dollars in damages occur, and above all people are losing their lives and their livelihoods. Constructing the Keystone XL pipeline is agreeing that energy emissions do not affect the environment and pose no risk to our citizens and our planet. The knowledge of modern science and public outcry should be put above and not below the interests of the oil business. Whatever gains made now in the oil business will pale in comparison to the millions of dollars lost in failed crops, damages from storms, and lost lives due to climate change.
*A version of this was sent to the US Department of State and released in the opinion section of The Enterprise
Written by: E. Rey