Last August over a thousand people were arrested in a 2-week long action outside the White House protesting the Keystone XL pipeline. Then in November over 10,000 people, myself included, made the symbolic act of forming a human chain around the White House to show our combined rejection of the pipeline. Fours days after that Obama announced that he would not be approving the pipeline plan he was presented with bringing about widespread and well-deserved euphoria. This was all very short-lived as a few weeks later Obama approved the southern leg of the pipeline, setting the stage for the entirety of its construction to move forward piecemeal. Tens of thousands of people began to reassess their tactics.
the pipeline as a line in the sand, something that a large segment of
the population (you don’t get 10,000 people to Washington on one issue
that often) understand the consequences of crossing. Many see the
implications of not crossing that line: they know nearly everything in
this industrialized society is brought to them by oil, they know how
they were able to travel to DC in order to stop the monstrously
destructive tar sands projects. Yet despite all this, they are willing
to say “enough, we must stop this and move in a different direction.”
Many of the tens of thousands of people will put their bodies and
possibly their lives on the line to stop the Keystone XL pipeline from
existing. They won’t do this because they are selfish, they will be
doing it out of deep-seated love for this planet and everything that
inhabits it. They’ll do it because they understand that if the pipeline
isn’t stopped, we’ll be doing far more as a species than just shooting
ourselves in the foot.
is currently facing droughts and record heat. Crops are being decimated
causing the government to have to step in to assist. Over twenty-five
people have died in the St. Louis-area from issues related to heat.
These events are bound to become more common as we continuously “load
the dice” when it comes to the climate.
Last summer, hundreds took the streets in Saint Louis for the Midwest Rising Convergence
in order to make clear how local corporations are directly responsible
for leading us to the edge when it comes to our climate. With the
Convergence and the actions outside the
White House, we witnessed an escalation for the climate
movement. This summer, this escalation has continued. Just this past
Saturday, Texas landowners and activists were trained in how to do soft
and hard blockades, in preparation for the attempted building of the
southern leg of Keystone XL. On the same day, over fifty people in West Virginia stopped mining for three hours on the Hobet Mine,
the largest mountaintop removal mine in the county. They used soft
blockades, hard blockades and tree sits, with a handful of people
locking themselves to machinery. And then they faced intense scare
tactics from Friends of Coal, purposeful ignorance from State Police and
for one West Virginian-native, a bloody beating while in jail.
heightened level of conflict is scary. I was in West Virginia last
weekend and when the gun shots went off near our campsite, I was not
feeling particularly brave. However, there is a benefit to bringing
conflict into the open, to forcing a level conversation that has not
been had in this country about what climate change means for our
futures. At the end of the day, those gun shots were nowhere close to
enough to scare people away from Appalachia because we all have intense
moral clarity on why we were there: to fight for the health and
well-being of the people of Appalachia, the mountains that surround them
and the climate that impacts us all. Conflict is an inherent component
of social movements; it is individuals unwavering belief in what is
right in the face of the Bull Connors or the KKK that forces others to
choose a side and pushes them to action.
St. Louis, we do not have coal mining or oil drilling or gas fracking.
We do have a tar sands pipeline, trains and barges running through our
city that transport coal, and refineries and corporations - many of the
most important corporations. We have the headquarters that make the
decisions on how to mine, where to ship, how much to pay their workers
and who to lobby.
we do our organizing work locally we know that Saint Louisans are
increasingly worried about climate change. Extreme weather such as we
are facing now forces us to contemplate all manner of future scenarios,
both for the well being of our planet and the people that inhabit it. We
know that people are looking for ways to empower themselves in order to
leave a healthy planet for future generations (and quite possibly even
We invite everyone to a community discussion on ways to fight back
against the causes of global warming this Thursday, 6 PM, at Central
Reform Congregation (5020 Waterman Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108). We are
confident that working together we have the power to create the just and
sustainable world that we so desperately need.
See you in the future,
Arielle & Chris
Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) and Mud Lab
For more info please contact: