President Obama referenced the need to combat climate change in his inauguration speech and the State of the Union address. After Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast just days before the 2012 presidential election, causing $50 billion in damage, climate change and global warming were suddenly no longer dirty words.
On Sunday, approximately 35,000 climate activists showed up at the National Mall in Washington DC to hold President Obama’s feet to the proverbial fire on his commitment to combat climate change.
NOAA went on record with their report that 2012 was the hottest year in recorded history, which added to the argument that climate change is not coming, it’s already here.
According to a statement from NRDC, climate experts, students, scientists, activists and concerned citizens attended from 30 states across the nation for the historic rally.
“This President has the power to achieve the single biggest carbon reduction ever, by holding our biggest carbon polluters – dirty power plants – accountable for what they dump into the air, said Van Jones, NRDC Trustee and President of Rebuild the Dream. “Cleaning up this pollution and using more clean energy will provide jobs to thousands of Americans, save families real money when it comes to electricity bills and, most important, will make a real difference in our health and the health of our children.”
A big climate target at the rally was the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline. Construction of the pipeline would lock the US into tar sands oil extraction for more than a decade, which would essentially counter meaningful efforts to control carbon pollution, because tar sand extraction is one of the most polluting, water-guzzling and unhealthy methods on Earth. It produces 2-3 times more toxic carbon contamination than the use of standard oil extraction processes.
“For 25 years our government has basically ignored the climate crisis: now people in large numbers are finally demanding they get to work. We shouldn't have to be here--science should have decided our course long ago. But it takes a movement to stand up to all that money,” said 350.org founder Bill McKibben.
The following leaders and dignitaries spoke at the Forward on Climate rally:
- The Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Hip Hop Caucus President and CEO
- Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director
- Van Jones, NRDC Trustee and President Rebuild the Dream
- Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse Democratic Senator from Rhode Island
- Chief Jacqueline Thomas, Immediate past Chief of the Saik’uz First Nation in British Columbia and co-founder Yinka Dene Alliance
- Crystal Lameman, Beaver Lake Cree First Nation
- Maria T. Cardona, Latinovations Founder, Dewey Square Group Principal
- Bill McKibben, 350.org President, Scholar at Middlebury College
- Tom Steyer, Investor and founder of the Center for the Next Generation
The consortium of environmentalists chose President’s Day weekend for a specific reason:
“Twenty years from now on President’s Day, people will want to know what the president did in the face of rising sea levels, record droughts and furious storms brought on by climate disruption,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “President Obama holds in his hand a pen and the power to deliver on his promise of hope for our children.”
To view Politco slideshow of the Forward on Climate rally click here.