McKibben, who is the scholar in residence at Middlebury College and has written a long list of well-respected books on the environment, plans to join demonstrators to protest coal’s role in global warming and the rampant use of this dirty fuel in America and all over the world. He explained to Yale 360 why it’s so important to keep this issue at the forefront of our leaders’ thoughts.
Coal provides 50 percent of our electricity. That juice comes from hundreds of expensive, enormous plants, each one of them owned by rich and powerful companies. Shutting these plants down — or getting the companies to install expensive equipment that might be able to separate carbon from the exhaust stream and sequester it safely in some mine somewhere — will be incredibly hard. Investors are planning on running those plants another half-century to make back their money — the sunk costs involved are probably on the scale of those lousy mortgages now bankrupting our economy.
McKibben explains why this march and other acts of civil disobediance against coal are so essential – not to force the Obama administration to do something they don’t want to do but to give them the political space they need to act on their convictions. When it comes down to it, McKibben says, the bottom line is we’ve got to get the idea that coal is bad stuck in people’s minds.
When civil disobedience works, it’s because it demonstrates some willingness to bear a certain amount of pain for some larger end — a way to say, “Coal is bad enough that I’m willing to get arrested.” Which is not the biggest deal on earth, but if you’re going to be asking the Chinese, say, to start turning off their coal-fired plants, you can probably keep a straighter face if you’ve made at least a mild sacrifice yourself.
Read McKibben’s whole article over at Yale 360 – and if you’re interested in joining the march, check out this letter by McKibben and author Wendell Berry over at Chesapeake Climate Action Network. http://www.chesapeakeclimate.org/blog/?p=562
Learn more about coal’s effects on the environment at http://www.coal-is-dirty.com/