Thursday, March 08, 2012

Will Bill McKibben Support Rocky Anderson for President?

Bill McKibben wrote the first popular book on global warming over a quarter of a century ago and since then he has written other books on the subject as well as numerous articles and essays. More recently he has become a climate activist as he founded the grassroots organization and helped organize many protest rallies and most recently nonviolent civil disobedience protests which got him and others arrested. He has held to the belief that if you can get enough people together to fight for the cause of preventing dangerous climate change and returning atmospheric carbon dioxide to a safe level (below 350 parts per million) the government will be pressured to act. This belief seems to have been given some validity when after McKibben-led protests President Obama delayed a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline that would bring tar sands oil into the United States from Canada and then turned down the pipeline when the Republicans forced him to make an early decision. However, Obama claimed that he delayed the decision because the route of pipeline through Nebraska might result in pollution of a large aquifer. He never mentioned McKibben’s main concern about the project which was the tar sands were a huge source of carbon that should not be mined for oil because of all carbon dioxide that would be released from the burning of the oil. And when Obama turned down the pipeline he said it was because the State Department did not have enough time to review the changes that were made to the route. Again, no mention of concerns about climate change. So did McKibben’s protests play a role? Perhaps, but it seems unclear. One thing that does seem clear is that Obama has been playing down the global warming issue for political reasons, almost never mentioning it even though he talks a lot about energy. The effect so far of grassroots organizing by McKibben and others to fight global warming at the federal level seems to be minimal at best.

Will McKibben conclude that he can’t beat Big Oil and Big Coal with his strategy of mobilizing the grassroots as long as a Democrat or a Republican is in the White House and switch his strategy to backing a third party candidate for president such as former Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson who doesn’t take any contributions from corporations and limits donations from individuals to $100? Since McKibben has been blaming Big Oil and Big Coal for the lack of progress on global warming such a switch in strategy would seem to make sense logically. But does Anderson have any realistic chance of winning? Can a candidate relying mainly on Facebook and Twitter to spread his message have any chance against candidates spending millions on TV ads? Stay tuned.

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