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Derrick O'Keefe's blog

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former rabble.ca Editor Derrick O'Keefe is a writer and social justice activist in Vancouver, BC. He is the author of the new Verso book, Michael Ignatieff: The Lesser Evil? and the co-writer of Afghan MP Malalai Joya's political memoir, A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice. Derrick also served as rabble.ca's editor from 2007 to 2009. Topics covered on this blog will include the war in Afghanistan and foreign policy, Canadian politics, media analysis, climate justice and ecology. You can follow him at http://twitter.com/derrickokeefe

President Obama, it's time to reject the Keystone XL pipeline

| November 8, 2012
President Obama, it's time to reject the Keystone XL pipeline

Today's Globe and Mail features a remarkably vapid and irresponsible editorial: 'President Obama, it's time to approve the Keystone pipeline.' 

With this demand to the re-elected president, the Globe and Mail has put themselves clearly on the wrong side of history.

They have decided to carry water for Big Oil, rather than to help stop the rising waters.

Obviously, the Globe and Mail did not get the memo: 'It's global warming, stupid.'

That injunction/reminder was the front cover of Bloomberg Businessweek after Superstorm Sandy flooded New York and New Jersey. 

Sandy turned out to be the 'October surprise' of this year's presidential election campaign in the United States.  

The campaign itself featured a contemptible silence on this vital, pressing issue of our time -- climate change. This glaring ommission was a damning indictment of the moral bankruptcy of the corporate two-party system in the United States. 

With the disaster of Sandy, reality at last flooded in to the public discourse. So it was that Obama's victory speech included a reference to the dangers posed by a "warming planet." 

The Globe and Mail could have followed this up by adding to the urgently needed sane, rational discussion about the climate catastrophe that is already underway. Instead, they have sided with the climate vandals, obscuring the scientific consensus and adding to public confusion. 

Take this line about the storm, for instance: "Hurricane Sandy has raised new worries about climate change, which, justifiably or not, will heighten public sensitivity to anything that can be linked by environmental groups to greenhouse gases." But it's not environmental groups that link Alberta's tar sands to greenhouse gases -- it's the pipelines that do that. Every climate scientist on Earth knows that the tar sands are a major source of fossil fuels, and the pipelines are essential to the expansion of the tar sands; if they are built, they are guaranteed to contribute to a massive increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Rather than point to the strong and growing body of scientific evidence linking warmer ocean waters with increased extreme weather events, the Globe sows confusion with the line 'justifiably or not.' 

The editorial ignores scientitic consensus, and simply omits key facts, concluding that the "many merits" of the project outweigh the "fierce" opposition of the environmental movement, who have for some unknown reason made Keystone their "bête noire." The opposition to Keystone is hardly made up only of environmentalists, it's worth noting. But then the Globe's push for the pipeline would be less credible is they referred to its opponents as environmentalists, citizens, ranchers, First Nations, workers, farmers, young people... 

The Globe says that the U.S. government should do "due diligence before giving final approval" to the project, but neglects to mention that the current process is not at all doing due diligence. In July, a group of climate scientists wrote to the U.S. State Department, objecting to the fact that climate impacts are not even being considered in the current environmental review.

The opposition to Keystone is fierce, but there's a very good reason. Here's how top NASA climate scientist James Hansen put it earlier this year:

"If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate. Canada's tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history... Every major national science academy in the world has reported that global warming is real, caused mostly by humans, and requires urgent action. The cost of acting goes far higher the longer we wait -- we can’t wait any longer to avoid the worst and be judged immoral by coming generations." 

So right now it's Game On to stop Barack Obama from approving Keystone XL. If Obama goes ahead and signs his approval of the pipeline expansion, his victory speech's nod to the urgent reality of global warming will be reduced to a cruel footnote in the history of humanity's march off the cliff. 

The Globe writes about "appeasing" environmentalists, but the real political choice today is whether or not to appease this industry -- the fossil fuel looters -- who are putting at risk our collective future for their short-term, record profits. 

The Globe and Mail has evidently made their choice, and it lines up perfectly with the priorities of the Harper government. 

Now it's the U.S. President's turn. An unprecedented mobilization and pressure campaign is needed in the coming weeks and months.

The effort is already underway, led most notably by the brave and determined Tar Sands Blockade action ongoing in Texas.

Here in Canada, some of the momentum from last month's 'Defend Our Coast' action should be channeled to help fight Keystone XL. The "unbroken wall of opposition" led by First Nations here is, after all, just one component of an emerging global movement responding to the challenge of the climate crisis. 

This movement's message is urgent and it is simple: President Obama, it's time to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. 

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Comments

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Our march of folly begs the question as to whether humans are an evolutionary accident somehow programmed to fail or whether we are dupes of an industry awash with money and drunk with power. One thing is for sure:the only reason for reading the corporate press is to deconstruct it!

An excellent article. Responsible political leaders must come to the realization that the time to move on a sustainable energy society is now. We are already on the slippery slope of runaway climate change andcan afford to procrastinate no longer. The world's climate does not wait for a convinient political or economic moment -- it is changing now. For more compelling detail on what is transpiring and its potential consequences see my article Loaded dice in the climate change casino

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