Why protest climate change?

BY FURY YOUNG  |  I’m a bus organizer for 350.org’s Forward on Climate rally. I’ve been on board with the protest for months now.

“Why is it important to protest climate change?” you might ask me. Because I feel it’s my civic duty as an earthling.

Whether or not you believe in global warming, it’s impossible to deny that the climate is changing. The 12 warmest years on record since 1850 have all occurred in the past 14 years. This past year broke the record by a wide margin. The planet is experiencing a wave of droughts, wildfires, storms, and floods. The cost of damages of just one of these disasters, the recent Hurricane Sandy, was $70 billion. The United Nations has estimated that the economic cost of such catastrophes, on a worldwide scale, could reach $600 billion annually by 2030.

As I’ve been doing one-on-one outreach, many subway riders and cafe denizens have asked me, “What are the protest’s specific goals?” I start with the macro, easy-to-grasp objective; that President Obama must enact policy to combat climate change. This flows into a more specific demand: to deny the Keystone XL pipeline’s construction.

As activist and conservation photographer Garth Lenz points out, the Keystone pipeline, which would take the dirtiest fuel on earth from Canada to Texas, would promote “a huge disincentive to a sustainable clean energy future for America.”

There’s an alternative we must advocate for on Sun., Feb. 17, when tens of thousands of concerned earthlings, who feel it is their civic duty, show up in Washington, D.C. Let’s not put faith in the jobs the Keystone pipeline can generate, but the jobs that wind, solar and geothermal energy would create. We must shut down coal-fired power plants, slash our carbon production, and invest in our infrastructure to deal with environmental changes. Let’s steer away from a world that careens from disaster to disaster, in which resources become scarcer and political conflicts between nations intensify to wars.

I urge you to join us in D.C., to be brave and speak out against a truly harrowing reality. If for nothing else, come to witness the sheer spectacle of 30,000 people forming a human pipeline around the White House. Because even if the cynics are right — that the damage is done, the corporate powers too strong, the planet too far gone — why go down without a fight?

Buses leave from the Marcy J/M/Z station, 178 Broadway between Driggs and Bedford Aves., in Williamsburg, Sun., Feb. 17, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Reserve tickets, $30, at forwardonclimate.eventbrite.com .