Every generation was present at events across the Flathead Valley on Sunday, February 17 to demand immediate action on climate and energy. In Whitefish, Kalispell, Big Fork, and atop a summit overlooking Glacier National Park, 200 people rallied in good spirits despite wet snowy wind and drearier climate math.
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The groups were especially enthusiastic about investments in clean energy enterprises to create American jobs that can't be exported - wind, solar, and conservation efficiency. Rally participants took advantage of the opportunity to demand market-based policies to reverse climate pollution and invest in better alternatives.
Speakers employed old-fashioned math to good effect.
Climate scientist Jerry Elwood, retired as lead climate researcher at the Department of Energy, discussed the 40 percent increase in carbon dioxide levels since the dawn of the industrial age. NASA data shows that the world's atmosphere recently tipped above 395 ppm. CO2 levels haven't been this high since well before the emergence of homo sapiens in the African plain 200,000 years ago.
Elwood said that the inevitable economic transition will be a challenge, but less so the sooner the world community, including the United States, begins to make real progress to change course.
In Kalispell, Roger Sullivan, the president of the Montana Environmental Information Center, said that Montana is at the epicenter of the climate storm. We have vast stores of coal and powerful interests whose mission is to emit ever-more carbon pollution into the air.
Todd Tanner, a nationally-recognized outdoor writer and the chairman of Conservation Hawks, shared a hunter's perspective on climate change. The impacts to the Montana outdoors way of life and the future of our world-renowned wildlife are in jeopardy.
On the summit of Big Mountain in the Whitefish Range, skiers from around the world hefted flags and a banner that says Forward on Climate - Glacier National Park.
The Flathead Valley rallies were organized by community volunteers to coincide with the national March on Washington on Sunday, February 17.
The Flathead rallies, along with others in Missoula, Bozeman and other communities, called upon Montana leaders and President Obama to take three steps to begin addressing the mounting challenge of climate change:
- Recognize climate reality in Montana: The Montana Legislature must pass House Joint Resolution 10 stating that climate change is scientifically valid and primarily caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Wednesday, Feb. 13 is the initial hearing on the resolution introduced by Rep. Doug Coffin of Missoula. Click here to see Rep. Coffin's resolution.
- Protect ranchers' private property rights in Tongue River: The proposed Otter Creek mine, a massive open-pit coal mine in southeastern Montana, should not be permitted. And the federal power of condemnation must not be allowed to seize ranchers' private land to build the Tongue River Railroad to export Montana coal to China. Condemnation of private land should be allowed only when it's clearly in the public interest, and that is not the case with exporting coal to China. Citizens are urged to submit comments on the Otter Creek mine by the March 6 comment deadline. Or print and sign the "Otter Creek petition" pdf on this page and return by March 3 to Steve Thompson, PO Box 4471, Whitefish, MT 59937
- Stop Tar Sands Pipeline: The Keystone pipeline carrying high-pollution tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico should not be built through Montana. Click here to learn more about the Keystone XL pipeline.
Climate change is not just another issue. Rather, it is the issue that threatens to swamp all other issues during the lifetime of many young people living today.
“Imagine a giant asteroid on a direct collision course with Earth. That is the equivalent of what we face now [with climate change], yet we dither," says NASA scientist James Hansen. The burning of fossil fuels is creating a heat imbalance on Earth, an amount of energy is equivalent to dropping 400,000 Hrioshima bombs every day, over a year, Hanson says.
“It would be immoral to leave young people with a climate system spiraling out of control.”
Fortunately, Hansen says, the solution is technically and economically feasible ... if we start moving forward on climate now! Click on the James Hansen video thumbnail on this page to learn more about the science and the solution, or click here.
Another useful 17-minute video that makes climate science both simple and scary is this TED-X video featuring former University of Montana student David Roberts, which also can be viewed on this page.
Date of Event:
February 17, 2013
Kalispell location: Depot Park at the corner of Center Street and Main, Noon
Whitefish location: Corner of 2nd Street and Spokane Avenue, Noon
Bigfork location: Harvest Foods roadside along Hwy 35, Noon
Big Mountain Summit: 10 a.m. at the Glacier National Park overlook