I’m with the Tree Huggers

If we're in a war to stop global warming, then we need to fight it on the beaches, the landing zones, and the carbon-spewing tar sands of Alberta.

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Richard Clement/ REUTERS

Demonstrators carry a replica of a pipeline during a march against the Keystone XL pipeline in Washington, February 17, 2013.

The activists fighting the Keystone XL pipeline are radical-and right

The respectable center has recognized that climate change is not only real and man-made but also a genuine emergency. The scientific evidence has become too stark to indulge denial or dithering. The earth is hotter; Arctic ice is melting at a terrifying rate; staid institutions like reinsurers and the CIA are sounding dire warnings about rising seas and extreme droughts. There’s an emerging consensus that fossil fuel apologists are on the wrong side of the battle of the century.

But there’s also an emerging consensus-among newspaper editorial boards, respectable-centrist pundits, even the magazine Nature- that the rabble-rousing activists who have tied themselves to the White House gate and clamored for President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline are picking the wrong fight. Stopping Keystone, these critics point out, wouldn’t prevent catastrophic warming. It might not even prevent the extraction from Canada’s dirty tar sands. It wouldn’t cut emissions as much as new coal regulations or clean-energy subsidies or carbon pricing. Meanwhile, approving the pipeline would create jobs and reduce our dependence on petro-dictators while signaling that Obama isn’t as radical as the tree huggers protesting outside his house.

Keystone XL Pipeline

TIME Graphic

Well, I’m with the tree huggers. The pipeline isn’t the worst threat to the climate, but it’s a threat. Keystone isn’t the best fight to have over fossil fuels, but it’s the fight we’re having. Now is the time to choose sides. It’s always easy to quibble with the politics of radical protest: Did ACT UP need to be so obnoxious? Didn’t the tax evasion optics of the Boston Tea Party muddle the anti-imperial message? But if we’re in a war to stop global warming — a war TIME declared on a green-bordered cover five years ago — then we need to fight it on the beaches, the landing zones and the carbon-spewing tar sands of Alberta. If we’re serious about reducing atmospheric carbon below 350 parts per million, we need to start leaving some carbon in the ground.

Yes, Keystone would create temporary construction jobs, but so would any other construction project. We’re already less reliant on Middle Eastern oil than we’ve been in decades. And there is zero chance that approving the pipeline would, as Nature suggested, help Obama “bolster his credibility” with industry groups and Republicans; they would celebrate their victory and continue their twilight struggle.

It’s true that imposing tough new carbon restrictions for power plants would do far more to control greenhouse gases than rejecting the pipeline, but there’s no reason Obama can’t do both. It’s also true that a tax or other government price on carbon could do even more to keep fossil fuels underground, but Congress simply won’t go there. Rejecting Keystone would at least put a logistical price on carbon from the tar sands, forcing industry to find costlier routes to market—while giving activists a chance to block those too.

What we really need is a political price on carbon, a policy presumption that cleaner is better. Fossil fuel interests understandably reject that notion. But so do respectable pundits, because they’re desperate to differentiate themselves from the unkempt riffraff who never shut up about the broiling of the planet. Respectable pundits see themselves as rational analysts, not emotional activists. They recognize the emergency but feel uncomfortable about the sirens. They endorse the war, but like armchair McClellans, they are always finding excuses for why we shouldn’t fight.

I’m an analyst too. I’m reasonably kempt. I’ve mocked the activists who whine about Obama’s “climate silence” while ignoring his climate actions— like unprecedented efficiency mandates that have slashed demand for dirty energy and unprecedented green investments that have launched a clean-energy revolution. But when it comes to Keystone, my analysis is that the activists are right. Fossil fuels are broiling the planet. The pipeline would turn up the heat. If Obama approves it, he’ll deserve all the abuse the activists hurl his way. There are many climate problems a President can’t solve, but Keystone isn’t one of them. It’s a choice between Big Oil and a more sustainable planet. The right answer isn’t always somewhere in the middle.

At his second Inaugural, after his memorable line about Selma and Stonewall, Obama finally broke his climate silence. He vowed to fight to slash emissions, “knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.” Keystone isn’t a perfect battlefield, but neither was Selma or Stonewall. In a war, you don’t always get to choose where to fight. You still have to show you’re willing to fight.

Keystone XL Pipeline protester

Jonathan Ernst / REUTERS
This article is published in this week’s magazine on page 19 of the Commentary section.
391 comments
RhondaWarmackHouston
RhondaWarmackHouston

The electric car comes from plugging into an electrical outlet...come on, Mr. Weir, where's your brain? The electric car was invented at the University of California at Berkeley, in the 1970/80, which does work well, with NO coal. Coal is on its way out too!!

RhondaWarmackHouston
RhondaWarmackHouston

Once this pipeline is completed, although gas prices are considered what they are today, after this pipeline is completed, gas prices will go up, food prices from the midWest will go up and so will more oil leaks occurs on land where the pipeline exists...which ultimately will, which has already been proven by existing documentation, both human and animal birth defects. Interestingly, how this pipeline won't affect jobs as much as it will those in Congress' pockets and the Rich's ability to make more money WHO WON'T HAVE TO "LIVE WITH" thei pipeline as it goes through our water areas WHICH WILL BE DAMAGED WHEN AN EVENTUAL SPILL TAKES PLACE, and more children will be born with birth defects... all for the benefit of the Rich and something that the American people who'll be living by it WILL NOT BENEFIT.

RonWeir
RonWeir

OH yea graeat, electric car.  Where does the electricity come from?  Coal generated power.  82 % of all power is generated from coal, oil or natural gas.

By powering up your electric car, you will have  have  burnt a pile of coal.  Think it through.

kitsfuzz
kitsfuzz

%s Sounds like you're hope you are still sleeping soundly :) %s %s %s

RonWeir
RonWeir

I was just reading through the Time magazine, a few pages before John Kerry said "In America you have a right to be stupid."  This pretty much sums up this article.

The pipeline will employ 26000 workers on a 3 year basis, this is based on comparisons to similar sized projects. 

The pipeline will carry crude from the Bakken formation in North Dakota.  This crude will displace oil imports from Venezuela.

The emissions from the entire oil sands activity = 1/40 of the emissions from coal generated power in the US.

If the pipeline does not go through, rail will take up the slack.  Canada will export to China, check out what the state department had to say.

Global warming?  check out the climate gate scandal, CO2 emissions?  Check out what volcanoes do  .




Lakerin250
Lakerin250

@MayorGregor oil will get to market. Choice is how? If no to pipeline its yes to oil on rail.

jonaweiss
jonaweiss

MT “@350: "Keystone isn’t a perfect battlefield, but neither was Selma or Stonewall." http://t.co/L5hPwi0wHJ #noKXL” C: @MN_350 @ScottDibble

winfreyr
winfreyr

The Keystone does present all sorts of complicated problems, but our penchant for game theory eventually has to take a backseat to our climate.  Every circumstance in which we compete for resources will offer excuse not to change the tide, but if cooking the Earth isn't a deterrent, what is?

http://22oftheday.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-dl-on-xl-pipeline.html

noxinixon1
noxinixon1

@sarah_harmer @TIMEPolitics This is why I am saving myself for Sarah Harmer

ccfdarrin
ccfdarrin

@sarah_harmer Any chance of a RT? Support the Canadian Canoe Foundation's St. John River Campaign! http://t.co/RYaHfaB61y #everydropcounts

IvyMain
IvyMain

Allowing the pipeline to be built "because the tar sands oil will be extracted anyway" is the moral equivalent of buying stolen goods "because criminals are burglarizing people's homes anyway." 

smnorthbird
smnorthbird

@BigIndianGyasi @sierraclub @MikeGrunwald Trees+fresh water = life I'm with the tree huggers.

ErinALynch
ErinALynch

@mayormcginn Keystone isn’t a perfect battlefield, but neither was Selma or Stonewall.

jonaweiss
jonaweiss

@sierraclub A 45-day public comment period 2 submit comments, q's & concerns about #KeystoneXL Pipeline via e-mail: http://t.co/9jP4vkJNED

Drakna12
Drakna12

@sierraclub Keystone PL is necessary practical & SAFE! 2k pages of the state dept report r shouting against delusional environmentalist

Drakna12
Drakna12

@sierraclub @mikegrunwald @time we need balanced solutions not delusional fantasies that destroy jobs and people's lives econmically

Drakna12
Drakna12

@sierraclub @mikegrunwald @time How many planes trains & automobiles propel themselves with solar panels & windmills?We need nat gas and oil

wheeliesmom
wheeliesmom

So what radical thing are YOU doing to stop it @sierraclub? I dont trust that you are doing anything. @MikeGrunwald @TIME

deanleh
deanleh

"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world (John Muir)."  The time for change is NOW. Stop the delays and stop the corporate lies. Dean Leh, M.A., M.S.Ed.

bobbiebarnhill
bobbiebarnhill

@sierraclub @MikeGrunwald @TIME @SpeakerBoehner and other Washington officials have money invested in this pipeline

PaulKangas
PaulKangas

Petition for a Solar Feed-in Tariff.  (FiT)

To: Mayor __________________  &  Governor __________________

We demand a Solar Payment Policy requiring our Utility   to pay anyone feeding solar or wind onto the grid $0.54 kwh, for 20 years.    This rate will make investing in solar attractive, because it will payback the cost of buying solar, in 7 years.  This is the most effective way to stop global warming.  This will create a million new construction jobs.   Germany has shut down half their nukes and created a half million JOBS using a FiT.  

Please return the petition to Paul Kangas,   435 Bryant st,  SF, Ca 94107               Youtube: paul8kangas  

PaulKangas
PaulKangas

Grunweld failed to offer the best known solution:  a solar feed in tariff.   Please sign the petition for a FIT

joni7777
joni7777

August 2012 While vacating on Fenwick Island, Maryland , we witnessed dredging of the beach all day and night.  Walking the beach your feet would be covered with a black oil like substance.  

Was that dredging legal???

JDietz1
JDietz1

@oliveridley Well reasoned article. Hwver dont believe kxl fight is worth the political capital. BO should & will aim for more than a symbol

rolliesmth
rolliesmth

As one of the 35k who marched, I agree. But how about using the approval of the pipeline tho negotiate a tax on carbon.

HighPlains
HighPlains

The elitist ruling class continues to use the disciples of green.
They are the useful idiot of our time.
For those who have the capacity to think, better wake up.
While these people are merely fools they are dangerous.
Unchecked, they will shut this bankrupt country down.
When the economy implodes some of the greens will understand just how vital energy is.
They lack the capacity to stand on their own, now,  there will be no one left to carry them.

RonWeir
RonWeir

Like it or not, coal is the main power supplier in the US by far. Where is your brain?  don't let facts get in the way of your rant.

Wind power is a failure, just look what happened in Ontario.  It nearly bankrupted the province.

My brain?  I'm a  geophysicist, what are you?


RonWeir
RonWeir

Wrong, The this crude is a lower price, so the refiners get reduced input costs.  If they choose to pass it on to the consumers that is their choice.  If they make more profits, they can pass it onto  the shareholders   Say goodbye to Venezuela, that is a good thing, unless that is where you are from.,

RonWeir
RonWeir

East Anglia University in the UK, climate-gate.


Check out the province of Ontario in Canada, their "renewable energy" program pretty much bankrupted the province.


Oh yea, look at a satelite photo at night over North Dakota, the natural gas flaring makes it brighter than New York city.

MikeGrunwald
MikeGrunwald

@blakehounshell Fine. But if you called every climate action a distraction from climate actions you didn't even support, I'd mock you too.

HighPlains
HighPlains

@DaveyMc87 $368.00 per household: the cost of gasoline.  Have you ever take a Economics 110 class from a non ivy league school?

oliveridley
oliveridley

@jdietz1 Political capital comes from intensity of movement, not policy. Symbols are important, and we can't know how things play out

PaulKangas
PaulKangas

@rolliesmthPetition for a Solar Feed-in Tariff.  (FiT)

To: Mayor __________________  &  Governor __________________

We demand a Solar Payment Policy requiring our Utility   to pay anyone feeding solar or wind onto the grid $0.54 kwh, for 20 years.    This rate will make investing in solar attractive, because it will payback the cost of buying solar, in 7 years.  This is the most effective way to stop global warming.  This will create a million new construction jobs.   Germany has shut down half their nukes and created a half million JOBS using a FiT.       

Please return the petition to Paul Kangas, 415-368-8581,   435 Bryant st,  SF, Ca 94107                                          Youtube: paul8kangas  

russell.frege
russell.frege

@HighPlains Energy is very important. That's why we should use it efficiently and stay within the bounds of our carbon sequestration capacity.

HighPlains
HighPlains

@russell.frege @HighPlains  

There is no alternative for carbon based energy at this time.  When you turn this country into a 3rd world economy the carbon foot print will increase.  3rd world economies are the real polluters. The ruling class and 1 percenters could give a hoot about energy costs for the general population. They will still fly Lear jets and live in million dollar homes. It's folks like you and I that can't afford the fuel to get to work (I'm one of the fools that still works) that are hurt. The few green Obama disciples who actually work are to stupid to understand this. Not to worry, if Obama actually caves to the enviro leftists your going to "get back to nature" real quick.