[Vision2020] Fwd: Award Well-Deserved

Ted Moffett starbliss at gmail.com
Mon Apr 30 11:10:26 PDT 2012

On 4/29/12, Joe Campbell <philosopher.joe at gmail.com> wrote:
> What did the author justify? Lawful, civil demonstration, which is their
> right. No one is saying truck drivers deserve the same treatment as Nazi
> guards. The point is one can't use a bad argument to prevent lawful, civil
> demonstration, as Dan tried to do. Truck driver sympathies don't trump civil
> rights.
> Joe

And further, I think a case can be made that truck driver sympathies
don't trump the moral reasoning that can justify civil disobedience,
which is unlawful.

The comment from McHale "We chanted, we held signs, we played horns
and drums, we sang songs and, yes, some of us entered the crosswalk.
All of these are perfectly legal actions..." broadly references those
who "entered the crosswalk" some of whom sat down in the street, thus
blocking traffic, which is not legal, which is why they were arrested.
 But why then write "these are perfectly legal actions" when it is
rather clear I think that some of those who entered the crosswalk
engaged in unlawful behavior?

Note Mayor Cheney's Earth Day award, which Carscallen was objecting
to, was given to a group some of whom engaged in unlawful behavior,
what I think it is fair to state in this case was "civil
disobedience," behavior that while unlawful is engaged in to protest
or attempt to enact change for a worthwhile reason, not just from
criminal intent, as addressed by Henry David Thoreau's famous essay
"Resistance to Civil Government"
 "Thoreau was a great writer, philosopher, poet, and withal a most
practical man, that is, he taught nothing he was not prepared to
practise in himself. ... He went to gaol for the sake of his
principles and suffering humanity. His essay has, therefore, been
sanctified by suffering. Moreover, it is written for all time. Its
incisive logic is unanswerable." - Mohandas Gandhi
I assume that most would agree that civil disobedience should be
reserved for truly grevious wrongs that are not being corrected by
lawful means, such as the civil rights movement in the US to end
discrimination based on race or other factors.

Some would also include as justified civil disobedience the over 1000
arrested recently at the White House, including professor and writer
Bill McKibben and NASA climate scientist James Hansen, to protest the
Keystone XL pipeline, that will or may carry Candian tar sands oil
product; and I view the civil disobedience in Moscow over the tar
sands bound mega-loads just as morally justifiable as McKibben and
Hansen's disobedience at the White House.

Does anthropogenic climate change and ocean acidification, both caused
by humanity's dumping of 100s of billions of tons of CO2 into our
atmosphere and thus the Earth's oceans, which the Canadian tar sand
project accelerates, and the local environmental damage from the tar
sands development, add up to grievous wrong that is not being
corrected by lawful means?

I think the facts indicate this is the case.

Others on Vision2020 obviously do not think so; and I suspect this
belief that the tar sands development is not a grievous wrong is part
of the motivation to object to McHale's letter to the editor, with its
reference to Auschwitz, perhaps an emotionally loaded reference that
it might have been better to avoid.  Though those who perpetuated
Auschwitz were in a very different moral situtation from those
promoting tar sands development, the end result of both may be
similar, insofar as Auschwitz caused immense human suffering and it is
probable the total impacts of the tar sands and other fossil fuel use
will also.

Of course the truck drivers of the mega-loads may not have any
understanding of the grevious wrong they are in part facilitating, and
even believe they are for the most part contributing to the social
good.  Consider that some of those at Auschwitz may have also truly
believed they were doing some sort of social good, just as some who
have held humans as slaves.

Consider that everyone involved in economic activity that is based on
fossil fuel energy is to some extent responsible for the environmental
damage resulting; and that is just about everyone is the US who in any
way benefits from the cheap abundant energy fossil fuels make

In this regard I am somewhat morally equivalent to the mega-load truck
driver when I pay for any good or service that is rendered possible by
fossil fuel energy.  I am making an economic choice that supports
continued fossil fuel impacts.

While for the most part I agree with the intent of McHales letter to
the editor, I think she is promoting hyperbole in stating the
following: "Perhaps he is smarter than the climate scientists who
decry mining the Alberta Tar Sands as the final act of irreversible,
anthropogenic climate change."

As the following superb analysis, "Keystone XL: Game Over?" by climate
scientist Raymond Pierrehumbert  (
), of NASA climate scientist James Hansen's comment, that I think
McHale is referencing, indicates, while the Canadian tar sands are and
potentially will be a great contributor to global environmental damage
from anthropogenic climate change and ocean acidification, coal is the
"800 giga tonne gorilla at the carbon party." And given the US has
more coal reserves than any nation on Earth, that we generate about 50
percent of our electricity from coal burning, opposing continued or
expanded massive coal burning is just as important as stopping the
expansion of tar sands oil development.  We hear a lot about coal
extraction in the eastern US, but in the western US coal mining is
expanding in part to be shipped to Asia:
Pacific Northwest to ship coal to Asia?
Proposed West Coast-based coal export terminals for shipping coal
mined in Wyoming and Montana to Asia are facing increasing scrutiny.

Keystone XL: Game over?

Filed under: Carbon cycle Climate Science— raypierre @ 2 November 2011 -

The impending Obama administration decision on the Keystone XL
Pipeline, which would tap into the Athabasca Oil Sands production of
Canada, has given rise to a vigorous grassroots opposition movement,
leading to the arrests so far of over a thousand activists. At the
very least, the protests have increased awareness of the implications
of developing the oil sands deposits. Statements about the pipeline

Jim Hansen has said that if the Athabasca Oil Sands are tapped, it’s
“essentially game over” for any hope of achieving a stable climate.
The same news article quotes Bill McKibben as saying that the pipeline
represents “the fuse to biggest carbon bomb on the planet.” Others say
the pipeline is no big deal, and that the brouhaha is sidetracking us
from thinking about bigger climate issues. David Keith, energy and
climate pundit at Calgary University, expresses that sentiment here,
and Andy Revkin says “it’s a distraction from core issues and
opportunities on energy and largely insignificant if your concern is
averting a disruptive buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere”.
There’s something to be said in favor of each point of view, but on
the whole, I think Bill McKibben has the better of the argument, with
some important qualifications. Let’s do the arithmetic.
Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett

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