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Economist Arrested At Coal Protest: This Has To Stop, Our Window To Act On Climate Change Closing

2012/05/05

13 protestors  were arrested during a day-long protest in White Rock, B.C. today that blocked coal trains from reaching port. Among the protestors was leading environmental economist and Simon Fraser University Professor Mark Jaccard, who issued this statement earlier this week:

This Saturday, May 5, at dawn I’m joining other British Columbians in White Rock at the pier to stop Burlington Northern Santa Fe coal trains from reaching our ports. Like others, I’m willing to engage in civil disobedience and risk arrest on Saturday to emphasize how important it is that we take urgent action to stop the actions that cause climate change.

The window of opportunity for avoiding a high risk of runaway, irreversible climate change is closing quickly. Within this decade we will either have steered away from disaster, or have locked ourselves onto a dangerous course. Our governments continue to ignore the warnings of scientists and push forward with policies that will accelerate the burning of fossil fuels. Private interests — coal, rail, oil, pipeline companies and the rest — continue to push their profit driven agenda, heedless of the impact on the rest of us.

This has to stop. We can’t comfort ourselves by thinking “if it were really that bad, government would do something about it.” It is that bad, and what government is doing in response is entirely inadequate.

Putting myself in a situation where I may be accused of civil disobedience is not something I have ever done before. It is not something I ever expected to be doing or wanted to do. But the current willingness of especially our federal government to brazenly take actions that ensure we cannot meet scientifically and economically sound greenhouse gas reduction targets for Canada and the planet leaves me with no alternative. I now ask myself how our children, when they look back decades from now, will have expected us to have acted today. When I think about that, I conclude that every sensible and sincere person, who cares about this planet and can see through lies and delusion motivated by money, should be doing what I and others are now prepared to do.

I pledge, along with everyone else taking part on Saturday, that my actions will be peaceful, non-violent and respectful of others. There will be no property damage. We will conduct ourselves in a safe, open and transparent manner. We are putting ourselves on the line Saturday because our future is at risk and we have to stand up for it.

Here is a 2007 interview with Dr. Jaccard and Jeffrey Simpson after the publication of their book, Hot Air, which they co-authored with Nic Rivers:

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More links:

Coal Protestors Arrested In White Rock

Jaccard: Pipeline Not The Only Problem

B.C. Economist Blocks Coal Trains In White Rock

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 2012/05/06 7:14 am

    As he is an economist, I am particularly impressed with Prof. Jaccard’s civil disobediance (I wonder whether William Nordhaus be joining him any time soon?). This makes his words all the more powerful although, given that he seems to be talking specifically about the Canadian government I think he should have said, “what government is doing in response is entirely inappropriate”. Even if he was seeking to generalise, governments the world over are still beholden to the fossil fuel lobby and completely duped by their “get out of jail free card” propaganda (also known as carbon capture and storage). If they were not so blinded by vested business interests, they would have banned all further exploitation of fossil fuels already.

    Therefore, when they finally do this, we will know that government of the people by the people for the people has been achieved (we can but dream)…

  2. MoS permalink
    2012/05/06 1:50 pm

    @ Martin. If you have a taste for civil disobedience, keep a close eye on British Columbia. Our very authoritarian federal government is furiously pushing a bitumen pipleline/supertanker venture from the Athabasca Tar Sands to our pristine but really treacherous north coast. This is madness writ large. Even our centre-right leaning newspapers are now coming out against the tanker peril.

  3. 2012/05/07 1:22 pm

    Clearly we are on a collision course with this government over environmental and social justice matters. This is a government which has one purpose and one purpose only and that is to serve the corporate interests of the resource extraction industries. The courage shown by Mark Jaccard and his fellow protesters may well be the challenge many of us will have to meet in the future as we face off against this autocratic and undemocratic government ( a 39% share of the popular vote is not a mandate to rule in my democracy).

  4. 2012/05/07 6:08 pm

    I agree, Barry. Our current federal govt almost seems like a caricature of corporate-ruled corruption, worthy of a Disney cartoon.

  5. 2012/05/09 2:45 am

    Alas, I’m not remotely surprised by Harper and company. All we can do until we throw them out in 3 1/2 years (and we will) is oppose them at every turn. By speaking. By informing. And, sometimes, by interposing our bodies between their plans and our children’s futures.

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