140 protesters were outside the White House on August 29, 2011, submitting to arrest. (Today is day 10 of a two-week protest.) They were protesting against Keystone's Tar Sands pipeline from Alberta, Canada to Texas, U.S. As an opponent of the pipeline noted, we have seen an increasing number of episodes of extreme weather.
Now, albeit, a single incident of extreme weather does not always indicate an effect of global warming. Take for example, the cycle of large hurricanes hitting the New York City/ Long Island region in recent decades, 1938, 1960, 1985, 2011. In the cycle we have hurricanes coming about every 25 years. And, the scientific consensus is that we cannot we identify a causal relationship of global warming upon tornadoes.
But, in aggregate, we are seeing more days of very high temperatures, weeks of 90s, 100s degree temperatures from Texas to Florida. And we are seeing severity of weather patterns in certain parts of the country: in the Southwest and Mountain West: drought and wildfires; and in much of the rest of the continental U.S.: record rainfalls.
WHAT IS THE TAR SANDS PIPELINE PROJECT?
There is much oil in Alberta, Canada. The United States has a high appetite for fossil fuels. Transcanada, is building the Keystone Pipeline to carry diluted bitumen, a crude oil, from there to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas. Proponents of the project say that the oil from the project will help ween the United States off its dependence on foreign oil (often pundits mention the Middle East, but they omit Nigeria, Mexico and Venezuela).
You can watch a short debate between an opponent and a proponent of the pipeline on the PBS News Hour show of August 29. Here, below, is a map of the pipeline's projected route. (Note its path through several red states and to Rick Perry's Texas. Watch Governor Perry gloat over the money that it brings through the state and ignore Obama's role in the pipeline.)
Read more background on the Keystone Project at PBS News Hour's Rundown blog, "Proposed Tar Sands Oil Pipeline Elicits Protests."
Then again, consider the above mentioned signs of worsening weather, the melting of glaciers, and the international scientific consensus: we are experiencing global warming, and humans ARE causing this.
We should be investing in renewable energies: wind, solar, corn-based ethanol. We should be shifting from investments in roads and airports to inter-city trains, and for regional population clusters, high speed rail. We should be developing residential and work communities in compact arrangements, similar to the patterns that we see in the older cities of the Mid-West and the Northeast. The judgment behind this pipeline proposal is questionable.
Protesters were calling on President Barack Obama to take action to stop the project. Specifically, they want Obama to deny a permit to the project. Details, see "NW environmental news: Oil sand pipeline in the crosshairs of activists", at OregonLive.com, August 29, 2011.
The organized opposition has been going for two years now. The current protest has given the story more legs. At earlier this month, Daily Kos ran this post with an online petition to Obama to stop the pipeline.
NASA'S JAMES HANSEN'S CRITICISMS
Number 112 of the 140 arrested today at the White House was James Hansen, the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, New York. Elizabeth McGowan in "Amid Cheers, NASA Chief Is Arrested at Oil Sands Pipeline Protests: James Hansen, the 70-year-old renowned climate scientist, was the 112th of 140 arrested on day 10 of the Keystone XL pipeline sit-ins", wrote:
Hansen—who has been arrested a couple of times before for protesting the harvesting of fossil fuels—regularly criticizes the Keystone XL pipeline as the "fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet." The Obama administration is expected to issue a decision on the international project by the end of the year.
WILL PRESIDENT OBAMA BE MOVED?
Given that President Obama is heeding the prerogatives of the Corporate Occupied Political System, the odds are very slim that he would to anything to oppose this project. His record in the past two years has shown that he attends to the interests of corporations. Plus, he's got the Tea-Party Republicans, such as Rep. Michele Bachmann breathing down his neck to keep oil prices down. My prediction, despite any protests, Obama will be more concerned with satisfying vehicle drivers that want low gas prices. Despite the protests, Obama will not deny the pipeline project a permit. He will play to the middle and show himself to be the centrist that he is.