Dozens of local residents are joining a wave of Vermonters heading down to DC later this month for a nationally supported demonstration aimed at stopping approval of the Tar Sands Pipeline. David Stember, a 350-Vermont organizer, was asked by Burlington Free Press Reporter Joel Baird to comment on why he’s participating in this direct action and even willing to get arrested in the process?
David: First of all, I’ve never done anything like this, or ever been arrested before for that matter. But in the face of both growing aggression by big business and big government, and the gathering storm of global climate change, the time has come for sensible people to step in and do whatever it takes to stop the runaway freight train of fossil fuel extraction.
Clearly, we’ve been addicted to easy energy and big profits from fossil fuels for so long now that those who’ve been benefiting from it’s production, whether in business or government, are going to go to any lengths to keep this income stream flowing strong, even if it means wringing the last drops out of the land while recklessly destroying the ability of our planet to sustain life as we know it.
Little or nothing of consequence is happening today in our federal government that points to any degree of awareness or conscience about these risks. Furthermore, all the excitement and progress around renewable energy, though a wonderful model if the future is shaped by responsible people, adds up to zero value for preventing further climate change impacts, if we can not stop operations like the Tar Sands, Big Coal, and other similar megascale GHG emitters. Bailing a boat out with a bucket is useless when ignorant profiteers and their political minions are still setting tidal waves of pollution into motion. First things first: we must stop fossil fuel extraction.
So, what are the choices, really? Facing insurmountable financial and political odds, the only way we the people can deal with this situation in the short term is by putting our bodies in front of this train to attempt to halt this crisis. Trite but true: If not now, when? If not us, who?
If getting arrested, or taking any similar action can bring President Obama to a remembrance of his promise to stop this level of insanity, how can any of us shirk our responsibility to show up and be counted, whatever the personal cost. Increasingly, I can’t and won’t avoid this fight, and am just so relieved and grateful that other sensible people from all over the county, including many wonderful friends and neighbors from the amazing state of Vermont, feel the same way I do, and are willing to join in solidarity for this life saving cause.
David Stember is the Associate Publisher of Green Energy Times and a 350-Vermont staff organizer.