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Mark Ruffalo On Opposing Keystone XL Pipeline: I Look At My Kids and I Say I Can’t Betray Them

2011/11/07

I’m looking out the window of my home office today, rejoicing at the sprinkling of snow on the ground. Yesterday rain fell outside, while a confused fly that should have been hibernating buzzed around inside. Both are examples, along with the temperature that has been 8 – 10 degrees Celcius above normal, of the growing climate destabilization we humans have brought on with our unrestrained pollution of the atmosphere. So while the snow outside doesn’t change that long term reality, it still allows me to feel that maybe things aren’t as bad as they are, which I haven’t been able to over the last weeks of unseasonably warm weather. This is northern Ontario, and we should be experiencing winter by now!

There’s been a lot going on in the world besides the warm weather in my corner of it. Saturday was “Move Your Money” day, a day for people “invest in main street, not wall street” by placing their money in local credit unions or small banks rather than large Wall (or Bay) Street banks. I already have an account with a credit union (although this has become more difficult since they closed their local branch – the closest branch is now an hour down the road). Our family’s experience with credit unions has always been more positive than with banks, so if you haven’t considered doing this before, please do so now. For more information, check out MoveYourMoney.org or find the Move Your Money project on Facebook.

On Sunday in Washington, there was a historic gathering of 10,000+ people who made a human chain three rows deep around the White house to send President Obama a message that it’s time he lived up to his campaign promise to act on climate change, and say no to the Keystone XL pipeline. The controversial pipeline, which is to carry tar sands oil from Alberta to Texas, is to be built across the American heartland, including the Ogalala aquifer which supplies drinking water to millions. Actor and activist Mark Ruffalo gave an impassioned and well-informed interview on CBC television yesterday. Here’s some of what he had to say, but please follow the link at the bottom to hear the interview. It gave me chills. If only every parent was inspired to take action like Mr. Ruffalo!

On why he is involved in protesting the pipeline:

“The days are gone when we could stick a straw in the earth and pull up beautiful concentrated carbon-based fuel. We’ve entered a time of “extreme energy”…all of which are accelerating our demise by climate change.”

These people [the fossil fuel industry] throughout our history have lied to us..When the system is gamed as much as these people have gamed it, why would should we decide to trust them now?

To the limitations of current renewable energy technology:

...When they mobilized for World War II, they did things very fast. Climate change is happening faster than any scientist imagined it. It is happening here. It is happening in the United States. We are seeing the extreme weather. It is time for us to stand up and start to make make these changes. We can do this by 2030. I’ve talked to Professor Mark Jacobson from the Stanford. He has the plan. This is easily do-able. We can be completely off carbon-based fuels in the next 40 years.

We just need to do it. Mainlining toxic polluting oil from Canada down to the Gulf coast so it can be put on boats and be sent overseas is not the way to do it. The way to do it is to start calling ourselves off of these extractive methods that are extreme and poisonous and accelerating climate change. We have to be responsible about this. This is an serious issue. For us to keep throwing out this idea like “we can’t get there”, “how are we going to get there?”, whining about having to take responsibility so our children can actually live in the world that is safe for them.

On “ethical” oil:

If you want to start talking about ethical, let’s just talk about the poor people in the world who are being made to suffer already immediately. In Pakistan 500,000 people have lost their homes because of the flooding there. You want to talk about ethics? The real ethical thing right now is to start Canada, all the western countries, to start stemming off their use of oil. Last year, we jumped 6% in our use of carbon-based fuels – 3% was the U.S. and 3% was China. If we are serious about being a world leader, we need to be a leader in this…Those indigenous people who are being displaced, talk to them about “ethical” oil. You cannot use that particular term, because it is not ethical, what is happening.”

On the economics of the pipeline and the jobs the oil companies say it will create:

There’s 10,000 people descending on the White House today to give Obama the “hug of support” that he needs to stop this. A huge contingency from Nebraska, from the Midwest, huge contingency from Texas.

TransCanada started with 250,000 jobs, now they’ve whittled that down with the pressure of people looking into their “jobs program”..Now it’s only 6,000 jobs. Let me put this into perspective for you. In New York state alone the solar jobs bill would put 22,000 people to work alone. That is in one state…For some reason, we have accepted the oil and gas industry’s constant talking points as truth. It’s insanity, it’s time that we start questioning these economics. 100 billion dollars these corporations are going to make, and we’re still subsidizing them at six billion dollars a year.

On what it is that motivates him:

My kids, my neighbours’ kids. Have we gone completely gone insane? Do we not see the writing on the wall?  I mean, its happening. I live in upstate New York, we’ve had the 50 year flood, the 100 year flood, the 250 year flood, and the 500 year flood in FIVE years. We have tornadoes here in places that don’t have tornadoes. We have hurricanes in places that don’t historically have hurricanes. It is happening. I look at my kids and I say I cannot betray them.

Watch the full interview on CBC.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 2011/11/07 7:12 pm

    That’s a healthy way to view snow 🙂 Snow is a surprisingly controversial topic, in that deniers point to it as proof climate change is a myth. Sure, it’s a sign our climate is functioning at some level, but it doesn’t refute the science. Instead, we should consider it something at risk, and in need of protection.

    • Christine permalink*
      2011/11/07 8:28 pm

      Agreed! If I didn’t enjoy winter (and snow) I wouldn’t live where I do!

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