The People Speak on Climate Change

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CommonDreams.org

The People Speak on Climate Change

"If it was easy, they wouldn't call it a ‘struggle.'" --Rising Tide North America

A mighty, sleeping, giant rose with the sun in the east yesterday and the swell of resistance thundered westward across North America.  The Mobilization for Climate Justice called for urgent action on the global climate crisis.  Organizers contemplated the protests in Seattle a decade ago, that shut down the World Trade Organization (WTO) and looked ahead to Copenhagen, where the world will go to set international standards for reversing climate change. 

Ananda Lee Tan, who helped organize the WTO protests and today's Mobilization said in an interview with Democracy Now, "I think we're at a place where once again we're faced with turning out massive numbers of people on the streets to challenge the corporate interference with international climate policy talks, but also here in the U.S."

Activists launched non-violent fasts, die-ins and blockades in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Ontario.  Bold climate activists in Greenville, SC chained themselves to the Cliffside Coal Plant Power Generator; in Washington, DC, they blocked K Street, where the corporate lobbyists roost; in Chicago, IL, they were arrested by the dozen in the financial district; they held a die-in in Denver; and in San Francisco, CA 200 activists took control of the Bank of America headquarters on Market Street, locking themselves to the revolving doors prior to being arrested.

They wanted to end new coal-fired power plant construction, stop mountaintop removal coal mining and put an end to market-based solutions, like "cap and trade" and "offsets," being offered by the U.S. Congress, which will not reverse climate change.  They want corporations and profits out of the debate and the disproportionate impact of climate change on low-income people and communities of color to be a major consideration in Copenhagen.  Washington, DC organizer Lacy MacAuley said, "We are calling for ‘Corporations out of Copenhagen,' asking businesses and their lobbyists to step aside and let us create meaningful solutions to climate change, solutions that place people before profit."

The Mobilization for Climate Justice website reports that marchers in Washington "began at the US Chamber of Commerce, the top lobby group representing corporate CEOs at the expense of people and the planet, and then visited many sites of climate destruction throughout the city. Activists marched to the American Petroleum Institute, banks funding climate destruction such as Bank of America, and lobbyists for oil companies like Shell, Chevron, BP and Conoco Phillips."

"Any agreement made in Copenhagen will be meaningless if the US continues to build coal plants such as Cliffside. It is time to tear down coal plants, not construct new ones," said Rachel Scarano. There are currently 43 coal plants proposed or under construction in the US, though over 100 others have been canceled due to widespread protests, according to www.itsgettinghotinhere.org.  Four people were arrested in South Carolina and police threatened a protestor with a tazer.

Roland Micklem, 81, began a fast today at the West Virginia State Capitol.  He is supporting activists at Climate Ground Zero , in their ongoing campaign of non-violent civil disobedience in southern West Virginia to end mountaintop removal coal mining and its effects on our future.  In a Climate Ground Zero press release, Micklem, a devout Christian said, "This is a prolonged act of mourning, not only for the mountains, but for all of God's Creation-plants, animals, nature-that has been callously exploited and abused to satisfy the selfish wants of a single species."

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Chicago activists hit the financial district, targeting the Chicago Climate Exchange, the first and largest carbon market in North America.  The group marched past several other "climate criminals," including JP Morgan Chase, a major funder of mountain top removal coal mining; Midwest Generation, the owner of Chicago's two coal-fired power plants; and the Board of Trade, which trades in palm oil, one of the leading drivers of rainforest destruction.  Twelve activists were arrested.

Even a few aliens got in on the action.  The green-faced, Avaaz aliens stood at the entrance of Danish Prime Minister's Marienborg residence, near Copenhagen and asked in alien cadence, "Where are the EU climate leaders?"  The intergalactic visitors made it clear that real climate leaders will commit to a global emissions peak year of 2015.  Canadian protestors took over the office of the Finance Minister.

Rising Tide North America, one of the groups organizing today's Mobilization, is appealing for funds to pay the legal expenses of those arrested today.  Activists at Climate Ground Zero also have legal expenses related to their ongoing campaign.

Looking back and reflecting on today's Mobilization, organizer David Solnit said in a Democracy Now interview that the story of the Seattle protests, "is one that tells that people, when we take action and organize together, we have power and we can make change. And that is the story that is terrifying to elites."

Karyn Strickler

Karyn Strickler is a political scientist, grassroots organizer and writer. She is the founder and president of Vote Climate U.S. PAC, working to elect candidates to get off fossil fuels and put a price on carbon. Karyn is the former producer and host of Climate Challenge on MMCTV. You can contact her at climatechallengetv@gmail.com.

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