Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Righting a world going wrong

With people preparing to take to the streets for this weekend’s People’s Climate March in New York City and 1,500 companion events globally, two stories of recent days underscore the urgent need for a climate breakthrough.  They shout the reality of a world going radically in the wrong direction. 

First was the World Meteorological Organization announcement Sept. 9 that carbon dioxide “levels increased more between 2012 and 2013 than during any other year since 1984.”  The jump of 2.9 parts per million (ppm) took heat-trapping, climate-twisting CO2 to 396 ppm.  The world desperately needs to reduce atmospheric carbon to 350 ppm.  That is the level at which the planet is no longer accumulating solar heat. Instead the captains of Planet Titanic are stoking the boilers and speeding up the ship toward climate disaster levels of 450 ppm and above.

WMO said that part of the reason for the accelerated rise may be the reduced ability of ecosystems to absorb CO2.  This is the most troubling piece of the WMO announcement. Around half of human-emitted carbon pollution is soaked into trees, plants and soils. Increased heat appears to be diminishing the capacity of the biosphere to clean up our atmospheric spew. Global warming feeding global warming is the most terrifying aspect of climate disruption, because it can drive climate change beyond human control.  The risk is that coming generations will be struggling to regain control of a runaway climate train, and employing all sorts of questionable geoengineering schemes to do so. 

Part of CO2 is absorbed by chemical reactions with the ocean.  As opposed to being taken from the air through plant photosynthesis, chemical absorption is highly undesirable because it makes ocean waters more acidic.  Acidification is now increasing faster than any time in 300 million years, WMO reports.  This threatens a collapse of the ocean food chain from plankton populations up, and with it the capacity of marine life to biologically absorb CO2. 

The second story was a new report from one of the world’s top accounting firms lining out the carbon emissions reduction trajectory needed to keep the world from heating over 3.6° F.  That is the generally agreed limit line for global warming beyond which the capacity of human civilization and natural ecosystems to absorb climate change approaches the breaking point.

PWC, the UK branch of Pricewaterhouse Coopers, says in its 2014 Low Carbon Economy Index, “For the sixth year running, the global economy has missed the decarbonisation target needed to limit global warming to 2°C (3.6°F) . . . we managed only 1.2%.  To avoid two degrees of warming, the global economy now needs to decarbonize at 6.2% a year, more than five times faster than the current rate, every year from now till 2100.”

The 2013 rate was better than the 0.9% average since 2013, reflecting that for the first time the emerging top seven economies are decarbonizing faster than the G7 traditional industrial leaders.  But the shortfall indicates global warming of around 4°C (7°F) by 2100. That is clearly a point at which adaptation to global warming becomes a desperate struggle.

The World Bank spells it out: “With pressures increasing as warming progresses toward 4°C and combining with nonclimate–related social, economic, and population stresses, the risk of crossing critical social system thresholds will grow. At such thresholds existing institutions that would have supported adaptation actions would likely become much less effective or even collapse.” There is “no certainty that adaptation to a 4°C world is possible.”

In other words, we are on course to leave our children with an out-of-control climate that exhausts their capacity to cope and adjust.

The 6% solution is gaining increasing resonance. James Hansen’s team last year concluded it is the carbon reduction curve needed to stabilize climate. 6% must become the clarion call of the climate movement.  We can no longer settle for half-measures we know will not achieve the goal of climate stability.  We have to insist that the world, its leaders and its institutions step up to do the right thing for our children’s generation, and implement climate solutions that scale to the immense challenge. 

We must right a world going wrong.  We are out of time for less than complete and honest statements about what we must really do.  Make no mistake.  Amping up carbon reductions five times past the present rate is a supreme challenge requiring significant investment of public dollars, and outright shutdown of much fossil fuel infrastructure.  Certainly it demands an end to expansion of fossil infrastructure such as coal ports and unconventional fossil fuel production such as tar sands and oil shales.  Powerful economic interests whose profits depend on fossil fuels must simply be defeated. 

There are strong economic arguments for making the transition.  Clean energy technology costs are at or near competitiveness with fossil costs.  The external costs of fossil fuels from environmental destruction to increased disease rates are overwhelming.  Nonetheless, the fact that the most powerful economic interests – the fossil fuel and related industries – continue to benefit means we will not win on economic arguments alone.

There is a moral dimension to carbon pollution and the climate crisis that must come to the fore. We must take the moral high ground. We cannot continue to pollute our way to prosperity, cannot continue to grow the fossil fuel economy, without knowing we are leaving the world a wreck for our children. It is a basic and simple as that. We need to say it, say it repeatedly, say it loud and clear. 

The success of the People’s Climate March in New York and the related 1,500 events around the world will be in elevating the moral imperative of cutting carbon pollution to the pinnacle it deserves.  We must put our eyes on the prize, and that prize is a world where global warming has not run beyond human control, where climate stabilization is still possible. 

It is less than glorious to understand that the primary goal to which we must devote the rest of our lives is to acknowledge the damage we have done and are doing, and to limit future damages.  But that is the hard set of facts we must face if we are to be remembered as people who cared for our kids and their future. 

We can still make a great world.  I believe this, that out of the necessities of rising to this greatest of challenges we will find the better angels of our nature and make a great world for ourselves and our children.  May our better angels get on the march on the streets of the world this weekend.

I will be participating in events around Cascadia this weekend.  On Saturday is Climate Knows No Borders International Rally at the Blaine Peace Arch on the U.S.-Canada border.  On Sunday the Seattle People's Climate March will begin at Westlake Plaza at 1 pm.

A Zero Emissions Manifesto for the Climate Justice Movement

Tom Weis of Climate Crisis Solutions and Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. of the Hip Hop Caucus are people after my own heart, calling for a response to global warming that lives up to the challenge.  Cascadia Planet is crosspostring their zero emissions manifesto from Common Dreams, which first ran this Sept. 6. 

Zero emissions is an ambitious but achievable goal.” —UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Zero has become the most important number for humanity. Why?
Any chance of stabilizing the climate hinges on transitioning to zero greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as humanly possible. Simply slowing the rise of emissions will not work. For the first time, the world’s leading climate authority, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has embraced a goal of near zero greenhouse gas emissions or below.
Top military experts and government institutions like the U.S. Department of Defense and National Intelligence Council warn that climate destabilization threatens our national security, yet global emissions just keep going up. Leading biologists like E.O. Wilson warn that the sixth great extinction is now upon us, yet emissions keep going up.
By heating the globe at such a relentless rate, we are playing a deadly game of planetary Russian roulette. In the words of Michael Mann, professor of meteorology at Penn State University: “There is no precedent for what we are doing to the atmosphere. It is an uncontrolled experiment.” If you believe your own eyes that climate chaos has already gone too far, the only logical response is to stop making things worse.
We are not suggesting ending the use of fossil fuels tomorrow. Decarbonizing our industries, homes, transportation, power generation and food production will take years of concerted effort and require every ounce of courage, ingenuity, patience and humility we possess. But intergenerational justice demands that we commit ourselves now as a nation to leading this green industrial revolution.
Some will no doubt call this goal unrealistic, saying it cannot be achieved, but they would underestimate the creative genius of the American people. What is unrealistic is thinking we can continue with business as usual and leave a habitable planet for our children. Americans are a supremely resourceful people with a long history of meeting, and exceeding, monumental challenges. While we have never faced anything as daunting as the global climate crisis, there are precedents for the U.S. overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds.
When destiny came knocking during World War II, we initially resisted, then answered by leading the allied forces to victory in three and a half short years.
It took a Civil War to end the scourge of slavery, and a monumental civil rights struggle to outlaw segregation, Jim Crow laws and discrimination, but we not only overcame, we elected a person of color as President of the United States.
When President John Kennedy boldly challenged America to land a man on the moon in less than a decade, our best and brightest responded by accomplishing this seemingly impossible task ahead of schedule.
It is now time for our generation to do something great.
A wind farm near Puttgarden. (Photo: Alex Bruns)
Zero Emissions Bandwagon
It may surprise you to learn that zero emissions has already been embraced as a goal by business leaders as well-known as Bill Gates, and world leaders as prominent as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria; UN climate chief Christiana FigueresPrince Charles; and former President Jimmy Carter, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of The Elders.
Again, even the conservative, consensus-based IPCC supports near zero emissions or below, albeit on a year 2100 timeline that belies the urgency of their August draft report, which warns of “irreversible impacts” from continued emissions.
Major corporations, like Google, have embraced a zero carbon goal. Others like Microsoft and Deutsche Bank are moving in this direction by committing to net zero emissions, or carbon neutrality (using carbon offsets or carbon credits to balance out remaining emissions). 684 college and university presidents (and growing) have taken a similar climate neutrality pledge. And a fossil fuel divestment movement is picking up steam on college campuses (including Stanford UniversitySydney University and historically black colleges and universities) and in houses of worship around the world.
SwedenIcelandCosta Rica and the Maldives are among the nations vying for carbon neutrality. Denmark is committed to becoming fossil fuel free, with Copenhagen seeking to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025. In the U.S., cities like Austin and Boulder are striving for carbon neutrality, with San Francisco pledging to generate all of its electricity from renewables by 2020.
Scotland is on track to generate 100 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020. The Philippines aims to shift the country’s fuel system to 100 percent renewables in ten years. The German state of Schleswig-Holstein is set to go 100 percent renewable this year. Munich’s goal is 100 percent renewables by 2025. The British Labour Party wants to decarbonize the UK’s electricity grid by 2030. And the island nation of Tokelau is already 100 percent renewable.
In stark contrast, neither the U.S. President, nor a single member of the U.S. Congress, has yet publicly called for a zero emissions goal for America.
2ºC Wrong Target
Just because the governments of the world accept 2° Celsius of heating above the preindustrial average as the agreed-upon target does not make it the right target. To the contrary, last December, preeminent climate scientist James Hansen and seventeen co-authors released a study in the scientific journal PLOS ONE revealing the UN-approved 2°C ceiling is based on politics, not science, and would unleash “disastrous consequences” beyond our control.
Dr. Hansen, economist Jeffrey Sachs, and others argue that “morality” demands a rapid and dramatic cut in global carbon emissions to stay as close as possible to a 1°C ceiling (we are already at 0.85°C). Here’s what they said about the urgency of dropping from the current level of 400 parts per million (a level not reached in at least 800,000 years) of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million (ppm), the level many consider the uppermost safe limit for civilization:
“It is instructive to see how fast atmospheric CO2 declines if fossil fuel emissions are instantly terminated. Halting emissions in 2015 causes CO2 to decline to 350 ppm at century’s end. A 20 year delay in halting emissions has CO2 returning to 350 ppm at about 2300. With a 40 year delay, CO2 does not return to 350 ppm until after 3000. These results show how difficult it is to get back to 350 ppm if emissions continue to grow for even a few decades.”
We’re obviously not going to achieve zero emissions by 2015. The point is we need to do it as soon as necessary to avoid catastrophe impacts from global climate change. Every day we delay buries us deeper in the climate hole.
Failure of Moral Leadership
The United Nations, Congress and the White House are all failing in their moral obligation to stem the tide of this gathering storm.
The United Nations is not leading on this issue, as it must. Since 1990, when the IPCC issued its first report, CO2 emissions have increased by approximately sixty percent. Last year in Warsaw, after 19 successive sessions of the UN Conference of the Parties (COP) failed to achieve meaningful emissions reductions, labor and environmental groups walked out after deciding governments were performing so poorly they could no longer legitimize the climate cop-out with their presence.
Congress is not leading on this issue, as it must. Since refusing to ratify the 1997 Kyoto protocol, the U.S. Congress has failed to enact any significant climate legislation. The closest they came was a Wall Street-friendly “cap and trade” bill passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives in 2009. Described as an “unacceptable compromise” by Greenpeace and “a step backwards” by Friends of the Earth, it called for a modest 17 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2020. Five years later, too few members of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives are even willing to admit humans are changing the climate.
The White House is not leading on this issue, as it must. The EPA’s proposed rules to limit carbon pollution from existing coal-fired power plants are a step in the right direction, but President Obama’s widely heralded “climate action plan” will be more PR than plan, with no chance of stabilizing the climate, unless the White House takes bold action. In fact, the administration’s attempt to please all during this climate crisis with its all-of-the-above energy strategy promises more climate chaos by promoting natural gas fracking; mountaintop removal mining; deepwater and Arctic oil drilling; tar sands mining; and deafening seismic oil and gas exploration off the Atlantic coast. That the President has not yet denounced a scheme as “absurdly reckless” as Keystone XL’s northern leg speaks volumes.
Even the renewable energy industry is not leading on this issue, as it must. Four years after it was first pointed out, America’s largest wind, solar and geothermal trade associations continue to embrace incrementalism, when the times call for revolutionary change.
Because the climate crisis threatens all life on Earth, it is first and foremost a moral issue. We have already seen how the poor and communities of color bear the brutal brunt of fossil fuel extraction and suffer the most from extreme weather disasters. Three out of four African Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant. African-American children have an 80 percent higher rate of asthma, and are nearly three times more likely to die from asthma, than their white peers. The moral urgency of this crisis requires a rainbow coalition of people – reflecting the diversity of our great nation – coming together to solve it.
Alarmingly, latest projections by the U.S. Energy Information Administration have fossil fuels supplying almost 80 percent of the world’s energy use through 2040, with carbon dioxide emissions rising 46 percent from 2010 levels. If this perilous trend is not reversed, runaway climate change could cause most of life on Earth to go extinct, testing the survival of humanity itself.
As the nation that historically contributed the most to global climate pollution, and is in the strongest position to respond, the U.S. has a moral imperative to lead this global charge.
Making the Great Transition
It is time for America to unleash its entrepreneurial can-do spirit through a wartime-like mobilization to help save America, and the world. Innovating to zero emissions will not only help ensure our collective survival, it is the key to revitalizing our ailing economy and putting America back to work. But we don’t have until 2100, or even 2050, to transition off of fossil fuels. Scientists are calling for deep cuts in emissions now. Leaders showing us how to get there include:
   The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which in 2012 commissioned a Renewable Electricity Futures Study showing that 80% of all U.S. electricity demand can be met with currently commercially available renewable energy technologies at the hourly level every day of the year.
   Former Vice President Al Gore, who in 2008 boldly called for 100% renewable electricity for the U.S. by 2018.
   Lester Brown, who in 2008 mapped out how to achieve 80% carbon cuts worldwide by 2020 in his authoritative book Plan B.
   Marc Jacobson and Mark Delucchi, who in 2009 released a plan to power the planet with 100 percent renewables by 2030, a vision that spawned The Solutions Project (a plan to transition all 50 states to 100 percent renewables).
   The prestigious Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in London, Zero Carbon Britain and Australia’s Beyond Zero Emissions, all of which are working to achieve zero emissions.

Zero Emissions Mandate
We have solutions. They even have names: conservation; energy efficiency; solar power; wind power; geothermal power; standing forests; organic farms; industrial hemp; electric vehicles; bicycles; mass transit; wave energy; tidal power; zero waste …
Here and there aggressive initiatives are underway. China is developing a single 38,000 MW wind project large enough to electrify a country the size of Poland. Four states in Germany already get more than 50 percent of their electricity from wind power, while in the U.S., Iowa and South Dakota are generating more than 25 percent of their electricity from wind farms. But progress is not being made at anything close to a speed and scale commensurate with the scope of the planetary emergency we face
On, Sept. 23, a UN Climate Summit is being held in New York City. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has challenged world leaders to bring their pledges to set the world on a low-carbon path. We entreat Mr. Ban, who calls zero emissions an “achievable goal,” to challenge attendees of the UN Climate Summit to bring their zero emissions plans to COP20 in Peru this December and to COP21 in France in 2015. Anything less will show our governments are not serious about solving this existential threat.
Our colleague Bill McKibben, who earlier this year called out the Obama administration for sabotaging the 2009 Copenhagen climate negotiations through NSA spying, has issued a “call to arms” inviting all who “give a damn about the biggest crisis our civilization has ever faced” to gather in New York City on Sept. 21 for a People’s Climate March to demand bold climate action at the UN Summit. We ask, what could be bolder than zero emissions?
Earth is the only known habitable planet in the universe, making the climate risks to humanity so great as to warrant the utmost precaution. Now is the time for the climate justice movement to rally around a goal of zero emissions, with the U.S. leading the way by enacting zero emissions policies at the local, state and federal levels. For the love of humanity, and our children, we must act now.
Zero emissions: because the first step to making things better is to stop making things worse.

Tom Weis is the president of Climate Crisis Solutions in Boulder, Colorado.
Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, is a minister, community activist and one of the most influential people in Hip Hop political life.

Monday, September 8, 2014

An arresting experience: Doing direct action at BNSF Delta Yard

Following is the story of why I and four others engaged in an act of civil resistance at BNSF Delta Yard in Everett, Washington September 2.  The act was intended to draw attention to a Petition for Redress of Grievances Inflicted by Fossil Fuels.  Please sign our petition here

I am a veteran climate activist.  I have written about the climate crisis for over 25 years and for most of the last 15 worked full-time to advance climate solutions.  I have spent a lot of time trying to stop global warming sitting in front of a computer.  On September 2, 2014 it was time to sit in front of a train. 

Five of us attached ourselves to a tripod made of three 18-foot steel poles erected across a train track at Delta Junction, the north end of BNSF’s Everett Delta staging yard.  I locked myself at the foot of one of the poles.  School teachers Liz Spoerri and Jackie Minshew and coffee shop owner Mike Lapointe fastened themselves to the others. Abby Brockway, a house painter and artist, ascended to perch at the top. 

Police and firefighters explore extraction strategies. 

Our banner, “Cut Oil Trains, Not Conductors,” expressed solidarity with railroad workers fighting against dangerous, single-person train crews.  During the day the action drew numerous supporting honks from truckers driving across the bridge above.

Around 150 yards to the south an orange BNSF engine was linked at the head of a black mile-long snake of tanker cars filled with North Dakota Bakken shale oil.  This is the same extraordinarily unstable crude that on July 6, 2013 leveled several city blocks and incinerated 47 people at Lac-Megantic on the Quebec-Maine border.  That exploded in fireballs after derailments October 19, 2013 in Edmonton, Alberta and November 8, 2013 in Aliceville, Alabama. A derailment and fire December 30, 2013 in Casselton, North Dakota erupted in a toxic plume that forced evacuations in a five-mile radius.  Another Bakken train derailed and was engulfed in flames January 7, 2014 in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick.

Every week oil trains each carrying up to three million gallons of volatile Bakken crude trundle through Seattle 8 to 13 times and Washington up to 19 times, according to BNSF’s own figuresSightline's Eric de Place reports that oil unit train traffic through Washington has risen from essentially zero in August 2012 to an average of 2.6 trains a day. They run past stadiums and heavily populated neighborhoods, and through tunnels underneath Seattle and Everett.  Just this July 24 a nearly 100-tanker train derailed beneath the Magnolia Bridge in Seattle.  Fortunately no toxic fireball . . . this time.

Bakken oil train at BNSF Delta Yard.  Support rally on bridge above. 
This is part of a trend to dig and drill for unconventional fossil fuels such as oil shales and tar sands that release even more carbon into the atmosphere than regular petroleum.  Production and shipping have gone exponential. The past decade’s stratospheric oil price rise makes unconventional fossil fuels more competitive.  Forest Ethics puts it in perspective:  “In 2008, only 9,500 rail cars of oil were transported on America’s Class I railways. In 2013 there were an estimated 400,000 rail cars of oil. In only six years, oil-by-rail has increased 4,111%. During that same time, the Pacific Northwest went from having zero oil-by-rail facilities capable of receiving massive oil trains, to four functional and six proposed terminals as of the end of 2013.”

The visceral threat of oil train explosions and the very real hazard of coal trains spewing trails of health-destroying coal dust underscore the peril of building our economy on fossil fuels, even leaving aside the danger of spills into Puget Sound.

But the greater peril by far is global warming and the resulting climate disruption that is now becoming so visible.  The twisting of our atmosphere by fossil carbon pollution is ramifying across the globe. From the Southwest to India droughts are spreading and becoming more frequent, causing a global food price explosion.  From Katrina to Sandy and beyond storms are intensifying. As soon as summer 2016 the Arctic Ocean might be ice-free, a U.S. Naval Postgraduate School study says.   That would be the first time in at least 700,000 years.  Carbon pollution impacts are accelerating at a more rapid rate than was predicted even just a few years ago. 

Catching up on my reading at Delta Junction 

Just this year in the Northwest a month of intense rainfall triggered the March 22 Oso, Washington landslide killing 43 people. The July 2014 Carlton fire burned a quarter-million Eastern Washington acres making it the largest wildfire in Washington history. A month later storm-induced mudslides shut down highways in the area scorched by fire. On August 19 drought covered 40% of Washington state.  Global warming's fingerprints are all over these events.  

Ocean acidification is another consequence of carbon pollution. Today oceans are 30% more acidic than when we started mass fossil fuel burning.  By the end of this century they will be more acidic than any time in the last 50 million years if we continue on our current trajectory.  That is driving the shellfish industry away from the Puget Sound, a global ground zero for ocean acidification.

The world’s most important climate science assessment, that of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says, “Global warming already is affecting ‘all continents and across the oceans,’ and further pollution from heat-trapping gases will raise the likelihood of ‘severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,’” Bloomberg reported Aug 27. The document leaked to Bloomberg says that unless humanity deeply reduces its use of fossil fuels,  “warming by the end of the 21st century will lead to high to very high risk of severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts globally.”

This is a world going off the rails.  A world where fossil fuel production and shipping are expanding while dust bowls are spreading, polar ice is vanishing, and sea level rise dooming coastal cities is irreversibly locking in.  This is the world where I went on the rails and locked down, a direct action to bear witness that we must rapidly transition from fossil to clean energy in order to leave our children a world with which they can cope.  
Over the years I have earnestly tried to work through the system.  I have helped forward carbon-reducing solutions from smart grids driven by solar and wind energy, to electrified vehicles and sustainable fuels, to carbon-storing forestry and farming. I have seen phenomenal breakthroughs in clean energy technologies including solar panels and wind turbines that give me confidence we can eliminate the climate-twisting carbon pollution that comes from burning fossil fuels.

Through research, writing and stakeholder processes I have worked to build community knowledge and consensus around these solutions.  I have seen some stunning successes that made real change on the ground.  I will continue to pursue these pathways because they work.  Even if I have added direct action to my repertoire I am not done sitting behind a computer.

But alone it’s not enough.  I can no longer see a track to bringing down carbon pollution fast enough to avert catastrophic consequences for our world and our children if we rely only on incremental change.  We need very rapid reductions in use of fossil fuels.  The best scientific assessment says that to stop trapping more and more solar heat in the Earth system by 2100 we need to begin cutting carbon emissions around 6% a year now.  That calls for a global agenda with an investment of resources on a scale we have not seen since World War II.  We need to treat the climate crisis as an existential threat to ourselves and to our children’s generation, and rise to the challenge with the response that is due.  This is not just another issue on the plate.  It’s about whether we have a plate at all.

Over the years I have worked with many people sincerely committed to turning around the climate crisis.  I ask you to continue everything you are doing, as I will continue doing everything I have been doing.  But we need to do more.  We need to match our words and deeds to the scale of the crisis.  I invite you to join me and engage in nonviolent civil resistance, to put your bodies on the line to say enough is enough.  It is time to end the fossil fuel age as quickly as is humanely possible.

As I looked from my position at the base of the tripod, I saw a sign that identified the place as Delta Junction, so named because it is on the Snohomish River delta.  I thought about the nuanced meaning of the word.  In scientific terms, the delta is the change marked by the divergence of two lines, signified by the fourth letter in the Greek alphabet. In a literal sense, our tripod was a delta shape rising from the flat surface of the rail yard to the sky above.  It was a fitting place and form to call for a delta, for a change from everything represented by those oil trains - A fossil fuel economy driven by concerns for the bottom line and nothing else expanding in the face of an overheated and disrupted climate.

After eight hours at Delta Junction the five of us were extracted from the tripod.  The Everett Fire Department cut out the four at the base with the jaws of life, and bucketed out Abby, certainly the one of us who took the greatest physical risk.  We spent a night and day in the Snohomish County Jail (an educational experience in its own rite) and face several charges.  We are ready to accept the consequences, whatever they might be.  You can donate to our legal fund here.  

Free at last!  From left to right, Patrick, Jackie, Abby, Liz, Mike

I had a special reason for taking action September 2. It was my last act as a father before my daughter reached full adulthood.  Her 18th birthday was September 3. When she reaches my age 43 years in the future, the world will be hotter, more storm tossed and troubled. Rising seas will be drowning coastal communities. We have already laid a heavy footprint on the world in which she and her generation must live. It is up to us of the parental generation to do our absolute best to leave the least climate disrupted world we can, to put our bodies on the line to give our kids a fighting chance to deal with what we have left them.

In 1967, speaking to the crisis of his time, Martin Luther King spoke words that could not be more relevant to our own:  “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late.”  
It is not too late for us, but a day could come all too soon when it will be if we do not rise to the fierce urgency of our time.  We are called to act with everything that is in us, to put our bodies where are minds are, to take the future in our hands and do our best to save our children’s world.  The question has never been more on point: If not us, who, and if not now, when? 

Listen to an interview with me and Liz on The Dissenter.  

Watch the KING5 coverage of the action.  

Connect with Rising Tide Seattle to stay posted on the movement against oil and coal trains. 

Rising Tide's "None not pass!" video.  (It's a hoot!)