“Out of the theater and into the streets!” This Sunday, thousands of people joined 350.org, Sierra Club, BOLD Nebraska, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Indigenous Environmental Network, Energy Action Coalition, and many of our other great allies in Washington, DC to attend a unique Do The Math presentation at the Warner Theater and then pour out into the streets to march around the White House in a demonstration against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
To be honest, our team here at 350.org were blown away by the energy and scale of this weekend’s protest. We clicked “send” on an email announcing the White House action just 10 days ago, a few minutes after the networks called the election for President Obama, and we weren’t sure how many people were going to be able to show up with such little notice. But people quickly got to work, organizing buses from Michigan, Ohio, New York, and elsewhere, finding lodging, making banners and signs, and — best of all — constructing a giant, 500 ft replica of the Keystone pipeline which served as our key prop for the day.
This weekend’s rally had two simple goals. First, we wanted to show the Obama administration that we’re still drawing a line in the sand on Keystone XL. Sunday showed that from the Tar Sands Blockade in Texas, to the ranchers and farmers who are fighting the project in Nebraska, to the indigenous leaders who are opposing tar sands production in Canada, to the biggest environmental groups in the United States, we’re united and stronger than ever in our opposition to this dangerous project.
Second, we wanted to get back on the offensive against the pipeline and the fossil fuel industry. Not only are campuses and communities across the country launching new fossil fuel divestment campaigns but, as of Sunday, we’re planning a major new protest this President’s Day against Keystone XL. The February action, spearheaded by the Sierra Club and 350.org, will bring thousands of people back to Washington, DC to push President Obama to make action on climate change a “legacy issue” for his presidency. Mark your calendars, it’s going to be big.
While Obama was out of the country on Sunday, there’s no doubt that the administration got the message thanks to the major media coverage of the event. CNN, Reuters, Guardian, CTV, Politico, and others all covered the rally. Perhaps the best coverage came from Stephen Lacey over at the influential blog, Climate Progress. Here’s what he had to say about the day’s events:
So while the President once again fails to lead on the central issue of our time, what is the climate movement to do?
Enter environmental movement-builder Bill McKibben of 350.org, who rolled into town yesterday afternoon with a very simple message: Don’t listen to Washington.
Joined by other leaders of the climate activism movement, McKibben was at the Warner Theater yesterday — just blocks from the White House — discussing his new“Do The Math” campaign, which lays out the case for divesting from fossil fuel companies. It’s a no-nonsense, make-no-apologies approach to limiting carbon emissions by attempting to weaken the finances of companies responsible for climate change.
When the lights dimmed and McKibben walked on stage to a theater full of roughly 1,800 cheering supporters, the large screen above his head prominently displayed a new mantra within the climate activism movement.
“We’re going after the fossil fuel companies.”
Simple. Aggressive. And a campaign waged almost completely outside the paralysis of national politics.
As always, it feels good to be on the move.