Bill McKibben: National Day of Action Against the Keystone XL Pipeline on Saturday
Photo Credit: Tara Lohan
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NERMEEN SHAIKH: We continue now with Bill McKibben, Co-founder and Director of 350.org, which has called for a day of action this Saturday to protest the Keystone XL and demand that President Obama stop the proposed pipeline. Already this week on Monday, 13 people were arrested during a protest in Houston in front of the offices of TransCanada, the company behind the controversial project. Also this week, Bill McKibben’s new book was released. It’s called, "Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist." You can go to our website to read chapter one.
AMY GOODMAN: Today the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power is set to hold a hearing on President Obama’s plan to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. EPA chief, Gina McCarthy, and Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz, are scheduled to testify that why the plan is necessary. Out of the 17 Republican members of the committee, 14 of them have publicly disputed the existence of climate change. Bill McKibben, do you feel there have been advances in awareness of climate change? Talk about the activism you’re engaged in right now.
BILL MCKIBBEN: I think what’s going on in the fight is sharpening. People are getting engaged and the fight over the Keystone pipeline is a good example. When we started this two years ago, everybody had said, it is a done deal, you’ve got no chance. But, people all over the country stood up. This leaderless, sprawling, interesting movement.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain what it is.
BILL MCKIBBEN: It is this pipeline down under the tar sands of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. People who are opposing it are Indigenous allies, First Nations people in Canada, because it’s a disaster up there, farmers and ranchers along the route and then people all over the country who —
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And what are some of the climate effects that are anticipated?
BILL MCKIBBEN: Jim Hansen at NASA said, if you tap into, if you burn all of that economically recoverable oil up there in Alberta, then it is game over for the planet. There’s just too much carbon. There are eight or 10 of these formations around the world.
AMY GOODMAN: What is it about the oil, tar sands?
BILL MCKIBBEN: Is incredibly dirty stuff. They call it Bitumen. It is oil mixed with sand. So, you have to — not only is it dirty like all oil terms of carbon emissions, but it is extra dirty because you have to heat it up or whatever to get it out of the ground in the first place. I was just up there this summer to look at the tar sands complex. The technical name for what was going on Mordor, it is unbelievable. You just can’t imagine how gruesome it is. But, its biggest effect in the end is the pool of carbon that it pours into the atmosphere that drives the global warming that accounts for the pictures you just showed from Colorado. We’ve destabilized the planet’s climate system, and the only question is, how much farther we are going to go.
We have raised the temperature of the planet one degree already. But, the scientists who told us that would happen now tell us we’ll raise it 3 or 4 degrees before the century is out unless we get off the coal and gas and oil. And if it goes up anything like that then all you’re ever going to be talking about, you or your successors by midcentury, are just an endless series of those kinds of images. What we call civilization will just be a big disaster response operation.