A Letter from Bill McKibben
As the oil washes up on the beaches of the gulf coast, the country faces a stark choice about our energy future.
Will you add your voice to the growing call for a permanent ban on offshore drilling?
Take action now >>
The oil spreading across the Gulf is a test, pure and simple.
Think of its twisted outline as a Rorschach ink blot for a society–maybe for a whole civilization. Will we respond in ways deep enough to matter? Or will we see nothing wrong in the devastating images of the oil slick, and continue on this path of destruction, danger, and dirty energy?
Forty one years ago, similar pictures of oil-soaked beaches and dying sea-birds off the coast of Santa Barbara, California galvanized the nation and set the stage for the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.
But over the years, that environmental fervor faded, and we returned to business as usual–mostly, the business of burning more fossil fuel. In late March, President Obama decided to "drill baby drill", lifting a moratorium on coastal drilling that had its roots in that first spill.
Just a few weeks ago, Obama said "It turns out, by the way, that oil rigs today generally don't cause spills." 1
How wrong he was.
So now we've got another chance–not just to come to terms with offshore drilling, but far more importantly, to come to terms with fossil fuel itself.
Please take a few seconds and send a message to President Obama and your Senators asking them to ban offshore drilling, and instead invest in safe, clean energy: www.350.org/drilling-ban
The water off the Mississippi Delta is slick with oil, but that's barely the tip of the damage from fossil fuel. We now know that carbon dioxide spreading invisibly across the atmosphere is driving change on a massive scale: by raising the planet's temperature, it's melting everything frozen, raising the level of the ocean, powering ever stronger storms. In the Gulf, and in every other ocean on the planet, that extra carbon is turning seawater acid.
And there's no way to prevent global warming with better valves on oil rigs. The only way is by ending our addiction to fossil fuel with great speed. The scrawny climate bill that the Senate may take up later this summer barely nudges the oil industry-as Republican Senator Lindsay Graham explained earlier this week, the big companies helped write the bill themselves.2
So now is the time to demand more–a new chance to ignite a broad movement to protect everything we hold dear. Can you add your voice today?
Bill McKibben, for the whole 350.org team
P.S. We know that sending an email is only a first step. That's why we're planning a Global Work Party on October 10th of this year. While BP will no doubt still be trying to wash their hands of this dirty mess, we'll be getting to work building the clean energy future we want. Get involved by joining or hosting an event near you on 10/10.
P.P.S. This is the time to spread the message–can you post the link on Twitter and join the Facebook group "1 Million Strong Against Offshore Drilling"
1. Remarks by the President in a Discussion on Jobs and the Economy in Charlotte, North Carolina: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-a-discussion-jobs-and-economy-charlotte-north-carolina
2. Interview with Linsey Graham: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/04/sen_lindsey_graham_i_care_equa.html
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350.org is an international grassroots campaign that aims to mobilize a global climate movement united by a common call to action. By spreading an understanding of the science and a shared vision for a fair policy, we will ensure that the world creates bold and equitable solutions to the climate crisis. 350.org is an independent and not-for-profit project.
What is 350? 350 is the number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Scientists measure carbon dioxide in "parts per million" (ppm), so 350ppm is the number humanity needs to get below as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change. To get there, we need a different kind of PPM-a "people powered movement" that is made of of people like you in every corner of the planet.