Why You Should Be In the Streets Protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline

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PHOTO SOURCE: YouthAreAwesome.com

You should be protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline because you know better.

It’s terrifying to think that in this digital age of hyper-connectivity there are still people who do not believe in global climate change, but there are. Fifty-eight percent of Americans still choose (yes, it’s a choice) to not believe global climate change is happening.

Inevitably, some of these are also the same people who are content with believing everything from intelligent design, George Bush having direct communication with God, gay people being damned to hell, and all women coming from one man’s rib. Some people will always believe what is convenient to believe. But does 60% of our country really still believe climate change is just not happening?


But, only a small percent of that 60% is made up of people not likely to ever change their minds on climate change. For these people, I blame Fox News and a failing public school system.* I admire Fox News for what it is: a well-run business creating arguably the best television entertainment around. Their vitriolic opposition to anything viewed as weak, artistic, overtly sympathetic or generally collegiate and therefore, “pussy,” fosters some of the best political theater ever made. Its programming has created a conglomerate un-hip empire that has become the face of aging Baby Boomers—those draining all our social security and Medicaid money— fighting the natural evolution of our political future and the ideals that define the Millennials. These people are beyond reason or logic and will believe anything they are told. They can’t possibly make up 60% of a country of people who now overwhelming believe gay marriage and marijuana should be legal. (53% and 52% respectively.)

Welcome to the world of the plastic beach.

Welcome to the world of the plastic beach.

The rest of the people who deny climate change are cheap, lazy and willfully ignorant. They will drive across town and wait in idling lines of cars to pay 0.05 less on a gallon of gas. They still drive everywhere. Hurricanes have decimated whole metropolitan regions. Heat waves destroy Midwestern crops and kill people. There is an island made of plastic trash twice the size of Texas swirling around in the Pacific Ocean. Superstorm Sandy.

“The rest of the people who deny climate change are cheap, lazy and willfully ignorant.”

If you aren’t one of those people, people who lack critical thinking skills, you have no excuse. You have the ability to look at facts and make reasonable deductions from them. Here are a few:

  • Oil is a finite resource
  • Our methods of fossil fuel extraction have dangerous impacts on our global climate health and have been responsible for poisoned water supply, economic devastation, oil spills and pollution.
  •  The politics of oil production and distribution have become lucrative, incentivizing private industries to lobby heavily in their favor at the cost to the American taxpayer.
  • Cheap oil has created an economic reliance on the car. Cars produce CO2 emissions, which speed up the increase in atmospheric temperature. These rises intensify natural weather patterns.
  • The United States government subsidizes oil. This creates dependence on cheap availability, forcing our economy to bend to its price fluctuations.
  • The increase in natural disasters has cost the U.S. taxpayer trillions** and counting.

You can deduce from these facts the natural path to economic viability is through the environment. Laying the framework for a high-tech, sustainable economy should be a no brainer.

“The natural path to economic viability is through the environment. Laying the framework for a high-tech, sustainable economy should be a no brainer.”

So why in the world does the Keystone XL pipeline extension make any sense to anyone?

If this makes sense to you, and you aren’t crazy, you must be either cheap, lazy or just willfully ignorant. There is nothing tough, masculine or intelligent about that.

This June, President Obama will make his decision on whether or not to expand the pipeline, which currently carries crude oil extracted from the tar sands of Western Canada, to Montana and Nebraska. If approved this pipeline would almost double in size and stretch the majority of the North American continent. Its construction is based on a premise that more supply will lower the price of oil and create jobs. It will only lower prices and create jobs in the short term, in the long term it’s a bad investment for us as taxpayers to make because it will further increase our dependency on oil, causing more damage to our environment and international political tensions. It will cost us more money later than it saves now. Alternative energy is a smarter financial investment for the future of our nation.

Pollution costs money. Last week the tiny town of Mayflower, Arkansas was flooded with bitumen, aka crude from Canadian tar sands, when the underground Exxon Pegasus pipeline ruptured, spilling 5,000 barrels in a sparsely populated region. This time, only sixty homes were destroyed and it will cost a few million to clean up, probably far more in legal fees.

Don’t bury your head in the sand and pretend its not happening. It’s real, it’s happening. Don’t let it. Recycle, read the news and ask questions. Stop doing your research in encyclopedias and bibles, Google it. Write your congressman and senators and tell them you want to see them subsidize alternative energy, sustainable mass transit and not the pipeline. Walk or bike when you can. Educate your friends and family. Join a Keystone XL protest.  This is the 21st century after all, not the 19th. We are smarter than this. There is nothing weak or “liberal” about accepting reality and working to fix it.

* Imagine if we spent the money we spent on war on public schools? What if we paid teachers like doctors? I argue that we would no longer be debating climate change, gay marriage, civil rights, war, birth control or drug legalization.

**I estimate trillions for a variety of reasons; corn subsidies, Middle Eastern oil wars, gasoline subsidies, natural disaster displacement and cleanup… among many other costs.

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