Earlier this month, Elon Musk and Bill McKibben called for a “revolt” against fossil fuels and the people who promote their use. Last weekend, they got their wish. In what The Guardian calls “the largest global civil disobedience in history,” tens of thousands of protesters in Australia, Wales, Germany, Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa, Canada, the Philippines, Indonesia, and the US joined together to oppose the use of fossil fuels.
Termed the Break Free movement, it’s slogan is “Keep It In The Ground.” The US Energy Information Administration has warned that fossil fuels are on course to still make up 75% of energy production in 2040. It says that CO2 emissions are projected to increase by a third by 2040 unless carbon based resources such as oil, coal, and natural gas are left where they are — deep underground.
The protests are sparked by new reports that the Earth’s average temperature is rising faster than anyone expected. The first 4 months of 2016 are the hottest ever recorded in human history, according to NASA. Last week, carbon dioxide levels, as charted by a measuring station in Australia, pushed beyond 400 parts per million for the first time.
The protests brought out law enforcement officers. Although sworn to serve the public, they are often forced to protect the property interests of the wealthy and the powerful instead, whatever their personal beliefs may be. Arrests occurred at protest sites around the world, while corporate charlatans and the executives who engineered the global financial meltdown in 2008 continue to walk free with no fear of interference from government.
Protesters were arrested in Washington state where a large group of people camped out on the railroad tracks leading to refineries operated by Shell and Tesoro. In Washington, DC, 1,300 protesters marched on the White House demanding an end to offshore drilling. Just last week, another massive oil leak occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, which is still reeling from the BP disaster 7 years ago. 1.000 people marched in Chicago to protest a BP refinery located there.
A group of kayakers forced the shut down the world’s largest coal port in Newcastle, Australia. Hundreds of activists invaded the UK’s largest open pit coal mine, located in south Wales, while Europe’s largest mine, located in Germany, was also swamped by protesters and forced to shut down. 10,000 people marched to oppose a new coal fired electrical generating station in the Philippine city of Batangas.
“Every new ton of coal that is dug up is one too many,” said Hannah Eichberger, of a group in Germany that calls itself Ende Gelände. The name means Here And No Further. “We are hitting the emergency brakes now. We won’t leave climate action to governments and corporations any longer. We are taking matters into our own hands now.”
Our politicians are not listening. They are padding their own pockets with the ill gotten gains of their wealthy fossil fuel masters and abandoning their constituents to their fate. What can one person do? Raise your voice in protest. Bombard your elected officials with verbal and written demands for immediate action.
The old bromide is that changing too soon and too fast will wreak the economy. But there won’t be any economy at all once the majority of the world’s major cities are underwater. “The global climate justice movement is rising fast, but so are the oceans. So are global temperatures. This is a race against time. Our movement is stronger than ever, but to beat the odds, we have to grow stronger,” says Naomi Klein, a climate activist. She has written a best selling book on climate change entitled This Changes Everything. Pope Francis has also added his voice to the call.
This is not the time for complacency. This is the time for action. Decide what you can do to help the Break Free cause and make a plan to put your decision into action. If you need suggestions, visit the Greenpeace website. They will be happy to help you find other people in your area who feel the same way you do. Above all else, pressure your elected officials to take effective action. If they refuse, vote them out of office. If the people will lead, their leaders will follow. Get involved. Take action. Today.