Global Exchange is an international human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice since 1988. Carleen Pickard is the Executive Director of Global Exchange.
Did you feel it too? A nervous anticipation hung in the Global Exchange office Nov. 6 as we wondered what the outcome of the U.S. election would be -- the President, the Congress, the state level initiatives and of course our local resolutions.
In the search for appealing, catchy, urgent and simple slogans, we climate justice activists have come to accept the phrase "climate change is the defining issue of our time" as gospel. But is it really? Unquestionably, the climate tipping point is fast advancing, if it has not past already. The easiest of many foreboding statistics notes human activities are hurling the Earth towards a 4ºC rise in temperature, threatening everything we know about how we carry out life on the planet. Everywhere -- not just in the Global South which already experiences untold horrors of loss, devastation and suffering due to changes in the weather.
Corporations carry out some of the most horrific human rights abuses of modern times, but it is increasingly difficult to hold them to account. Economic globalization and the rise of transnational corporate power have created a favourable climate for corporate human rights abusers, which are governed principally by the codes of supply and demand and show genuine loyalty only to their stockholders.
Wait a minute! Hang on! Didn't we celebrate that President Obama announced that the Keystone XL permit decision (whether or not approve TransCanada's application to build a mega pipeline to transport dirty tar sands oil from northern Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico) was off the agenda until 2013? Yes, we did. BUT then the payroll tax cut extension came up for consideration in Congress and outraged Republicans decided to attach legislation forcing President Obama to approve or deny Keystone XL in 60 days. This happened on December 23.
The title steals the last line from Tar Sands Action's morning blog ("It's going to be very good day for the 99% of us who aren't an executive at TransCanada.") with the update that it WAS a great day. By official count 12,000 of us participated in the Day of Action to surround the White House. Some called it a "giant hug," some said we'd "encircle the White House to show President Obama that he has the support he needs to say NO to the Keystone XL pipeline" and at last night's meet up and strategy session Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein said that some could also call it "a house arrest."