What a week it's been for those living the green life. It started with the (unsurprising but troublesome) news that corporations had their fingers deeper in climate change denial science than originally thought. More than $1.2 million deep. I mean, c'mon, everyone knows climate change denial is the real hoax here, not climate change itself. Shit, at least I hope so — especially if you're on this blog.
On a more exciting note, President Barack Obama vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline bill yesterday. Woohoo! While many of my friends and I are excited, many other Americans feel disappointed and even embarrassed by the president's decision. That's the gist, at least, I've gotten from reading several publications.
"What's the big deal with this pipeline anyway?" you must be thinking.
For one, this pipeline would be massive: 1,179 miles long to be exact. It will travel from Alberta, Canada, to the border of Texas and Louisiana. Inside that 36-inch wide pipeline would be tar sands oil, what's been deemed as one of the world's dirtiest fuels.
Now, if you click that Friends of the Earth link, you can read all about how horrible this pipeline is. It could "devastate ecosystems, pollute water sources and jeopardize public health." I would agree. Just look at what happened to the Yellowstone River last month. The second spill in just six months, the oil pipeline burst spilled 50,000 gallons into this river. People could smell the putrid stench from their homes. They were told to not drink their water. WTF? That sort of shit freaks me out, and it's unfair that some communities are devastated by such incidents while the businesses in charge just pay a fine or two, if any.
That Al-Jazeera article linked above ends with a quote from Montana Sen. Steve Daines: “The State Department has affirmed the safety of Keystone XL pipeline. It’s important that this job-creating project is approved."
Supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline keep yapping about how it's going to create all these jobs. Blah, blah, blah. One look at the official pipeline's website speaks the complete opposite of what the FOE's website said. It says: "Keystone XL Pipeline will be the safest and most advanced oil pipeline operation in North America. It will not only bring essential infrastructure to North American oil producers, but it will also provide jobs, long-term energy independence and an economic boost to Americans."
Look, I'm all about jobs, man. I believe in employment, economic prosperity and the betterment of the American people. But why should that be at the (definite) cost of the environment and at the (potential) cost of public health? This pipeline will continue our country's dependency on fossil fuels. It's about time we, as a nation, step back and ask ourselves, "Do we really want to invest more time, money and energy on fossil fuels?"
The planet is in a fragile state. I find it appalling how many people fail to realize the true catastrophe on our hands. The planet is warming the fuck up. Period. This crazy polar vortex shit hitting the Northeast, where I reside, is scary — and scientists have linked its recent intensity to climate change. This study goes into the specifics; this Slate article sums it up.
It's scary, man. Like end-of-the-world, should-I-even-have-kids-someday scary.
And what about the West Coast's epic drought? While studies have shown that climate change didn't directly cause it, the studies have shown that climate change didn't help it either. Even scarier than the $2.2 billion problem on the West is the reality that megadroughts are to come — in 2050. I don't know about y'all, but I hope to be alive then. And megadroughts?! MEGAdroughts?! Goddamn MEGADROUGHTS?! Like what is that?
Jason Smerdon, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, co-authored a study that reports there's an 80 percent chance a megadrought will happen within this century in a business-as-usual scenario. In a Slate article, he said these droughts are "mega" because they last several decades. California's drought has been around for just a few years. Imagine a few decades. Holy shit.
Now keep this in mind: The 80 percent chance is in a business-as-usual scenario. Guess what would be included in such a scenario? You got it: the Keystone XL pipeline.
More options exist to create jobs besides increasing fossil fuel consumption. If the renewable energy sector grew, a bunch of jobs could come from that. That's what China is doing, according to a 2014 International Renewable Energy Agency study. In 2013, China employed 1.3 million people in the renewable energy sector. In the United States, the consensus has been that if we did shift toward renewable energy, those jobs would go to anyone who lost theirs in the transition. Fossil fuel workers have first dibs.
The bottom line is that humanity is at a pivotal moment of history right now. It is up to you, me, government regulators and the people of today to do something about it. Crude oil trains need to stop exploding left and right. Americans need to quit giving Obama the side eye because he's trying to act in the planet's best interest. (It's the only one we have in case you didn't already know.)
People need to be less selfish. Think of the poor fucking kids who have to live on this God forsaken rock when we're all sleeping in our coffins. Don't care about people? What about the whales? Or the hummingbirds? Maybe the roses?
Just take a minute to breathe and ask yourself: "What am I doing to better the future of my species and its home?"
Photo courtesy of Light Brigading // Flickr