Action: the largest climate rally in U.S. history

“After aerial shots, official estimate of #ForwardOnClimate rally is 50,000 people” – making it the largest climate action ever in United States history. organiser Joshua Kahn Russell

Update on 22 March 2013 – 22 March 2013:
Dozens Arrested as Keystone XL Protests Erupt Across the U.S.
Protesters in dozens of cities throughout the U.S. are confronting Keystone XL’s corporate backers directly.

• You can sign this letter telling US President Obama that Canadians support bold action to fight climate change. “Every leader, in every country, has a global responsibility to create a cleaner, safer future.”

• You can also still sign this letter urging US President Obama to take “strong, decisive action on climate and reject the Keystone XL pipeline.” The organisation wants to make sure that Obama hears from people all around the world.

• Video of the rally in Washington DC here.

“Given what was at stake, given Frankenstorm Sandy, the devastating Midwestern drought and record southwestern fires of 2012, the Snowmageddon winter storm that had recently dropped 40 inches of the white stuff on Hamden, Connecticut, the blistering spring and summer of 2012, the fast-melting Arctic sea ice, and the fact that last year broke all heat records for the continental United States, given the build-up of billion-dollar weather disasters in recent years, and the growing emphasis on “extreme weather” events on the national TV news, shouldn’t hundreds of thousands have been there? After all, I’ve been in antiwar demonstrations in which at least that many marched and in 1982, I found myself in my hometown in a crowd of a million demonstrating against the possibility of a world-ending nuclear war. Is climate change a less important issue?
Tom Engelhardt, 5 March 2013

Truthdig – 5 March 2013:
Where Is Everybody on Climate Change?

The above is so far the best report I have seen from this event. Below are a couple of other reports and articles covering the rally:

Huffington Post – 20 february 2013:
Obama Golfed With Oil Men As Climate Protesters Descended On White House
On the same weekend that 40,000 people gathered on the Mall in Washington to protest construction of the Keystone Pipeline — to its critics, a monument to carbon-based folly — President Obama was golfing in Florida with a pair of Texans who are key oil, gas and pipeline players.


Waging NonViolence – 18 february 2013:
Bill McKibben’s Math Starts Adding Up
From climate science to grassroots organizing, for founder Bill McKibben, it’s all about the numbers. – 18 February 2013:
Washington: 50,000 protest Keystone XL pipeline
“Most Canadian media downplays Washington protest”. With a 25 minutes video report.


“Obama’s legacy is on the line”

“We’re fighting for the children of all species. This isn’t just a fight about Democrats versus Republicans in the United States. The children of all species forever are going to be impacted by what we do in this town for the next twelve to twenty-four months,” said Van Jones, who worked in Obama’s White House in 2009 as his “green jobs czar,” in a pre-rally interview.

“So when you have that kind of fight, and people know that’s the fight that it is, you’re not going to see the sort of compromising you saw in the past. This is a different environmental movement. This is a different moment.”

And if Obama does approve the pipeline? Van Jones said it would define Obama in history’s eyes.

“Every other gain this president has done will be erased over the next ten, twenty, thirty years by floods, by fires, by droughts, by superstorms. His legacy is on the line.”

The Nation – 17 February 2013:
‘Forward on Climate’ Rally Sends a Message to Obama: No Keystone


Click to see poster on FacebookPosted on 13 February 2013:
Finally some action. In the US, it looks as if people are waking up. In Washington D.C., on Sunday 17 February 2013, from noon to 4pm, thousands of Americans – 30,000 are expected – intend to make ‘Forward on Climate’ the largest climate rally in the country’s history.

If you live in the US, I reckon you should join this historic event to make your voice heard and help president Obama start his second term with strong climate action.

Read more:

“It’s past time for the president to get serious about climate change. We just had the hottest year in the U.S. on record, and half the country is in drought. If we don’t act now, then when will we?”

Daniel Kessler, media campaigner for, a grassroots environmental organisation.

“Civil disobedience again needed”

James Hansen, NASA’s head climatatologist, told the Post the fact that Obama can talk about promoting renewal energy and oil and gas production “shows he doesn’t get it.”

“We have reached a fork in the road, and the politicians have to understand we either go down this road of exploiting every fossil fuel we have — tar sands, tar shale, off-shore drilling in the Arctic — but the science tells us we can’t do that without creating a situation where our children and grandchildren will have no control over, which is the climate system.”

Civil rights leader Julian Bond told the Post that civil disobedience was again needed: “When you find that ordinary methods of persuasion are not working, you turn to other methods, and this is peaceful, nonthreatening and has been successful in the past, and there is no reason to believe it won’t be successful here.”


The Globe and Mail – 13 February 2013:
Daryl Hannah, others arrested at White House protest against Keystone XL pipeline


“Whether it’s convenient or not for our politicians, this is the test. This is the first environmental issue that’s brought Americans into the streets in many, many years.”
Bill McKibben, co-founder of, in an interview before being arrested.

The Washington Post on 13 February 2013: Activists arrested at White House protesting Keystone pipeline

Solving the climate crisis

From rejecting the toxic Keystone XL tar sands pipeline to limiting carbon pollution from our nation’s dirty power plants, moving beyond coal and natural gas, and firing up our clean energy economy, Barack Obama’s legacy as president will rest squarely on his response, resolve, and leadership in solving the climate crisis.

To help him take action, ‘Forward on Climate’ rally participants will gather at the Washington Monument, march to the White House, form a giant human pipeline, and hear from inspiring speakers like Bill McKibben, Michael Brune, Van Jones, Maria Cardona, the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Chief Jackie Thomas of the Saik’uz First Nation, and Crystal Lameman of the Beaver Lake Cree First Nations, with more to be named soon.


“Your legacy as 44th president of the United States rests firmly on your leadership on climate disruption. Only the president has the power to lead an effort on the scale and with the urgency we need to phase out fossil fuels and lead America, and the world, in a clean energy revolution.

We support your demonstrating the strongest resolve in fighting the climate crisis on every front.”

Signed by: Morgan Freeman, Robert F. Kennedy, Michael Franti, Yoko Ono, Phillipe Cousteau, and many others.


The fossil-fuel lock-in

“Nobody has more political muscle than the fossil fuel industry,” wrote Fred Pearce – a consultant on environmental issues – in an article in the magazine New Scientist on 26 January 2013.

Corporate shareholders of the fossil fuel industry hold the US “locked into 20th century technologies that are quite incapable of solving 21st century problems,” he explained in the article:

“Changing course is hard. Really hard. Part of the reason for the lock-in is the vast infrastructure dedicated to sustaining the supply of coal, oil and gas. There is no better symbol of that than a new pipeline. Partly it is political. Nobody has more political muscle than the fossil fuel industry, especially in Washington. And partly it is commercial.”

Fred Pearce quotes Schellnhuber as saying: “Heavy investments in fossil fuels have led to big profits for shareholders, which in turn leads to greater investments in technologies that have proven to be profitable. The result is domination by an outdated energy system that stifles alternatives.”

Profit. Political muscle. Stifling of the alternatives. Don’t we all know this? I can’t resist from bringing this old cartoon back into the picture here, because somehow it still sums up everything there is to say about this situation we are in, and which shortsighted profit-makers apparently don’t mind putting their own children in:

Cartoon by Tom Moro. Click to see source
Cartoon by Tom Toro

New Scientist – 28 January 2013:
Is Obama about to blow his climate credentials?