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#867 – Dick Bernard: The Tar Sands Pipeline and other matters of the environment

Friday, April 4th, 2014

A relevant and current addendum to this post is the 2014 Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change accessible here.

Last Sunday after church I stopped by a table staffed by two members of the environmental organization MN350.

This day they were encouraging action against a proposed expansion of the Alberta Clipper Pipeline of Enbridge Energy, a Canadian Corporation. The planned demonstration was Thursday April 3 in St. Paul. The essential information about the contested project is here: Stop Alberta Clipper001.

I was interested in this issue, and Thursday afternoon came, with icy rain preliminary to a predicted 6-10 inches of snow overnight.

After some hemming and hawing, I arrived late at the demo, walked a few blocks in the march and came home.

I was glad I went. There was a good attendance, especially given the weather. My two favorite photos are these.

(click to enlarge photos)

April 3 Tar Sands Pipeline demo St. Paul MN

April 3 Tar Sands Pipeline demo St. Paul MN

April 3, 2014

April 3, 2014

Often I wonder if the whole climate change situation is hopeless. Are the people who walked in this demonstration wasting their time? As friends in the peace and justice movement know, I am no particular fan of protests simply for the sake of protesting.

But every now and then, there is encouragement, and Thursday was such a day, coming from an unusual direction. I picked up a little hope that the quiet majority is generally getting it – that there is a problem, despite the scoffers at ” the very words Global Warming”.

Before driving into St. Paul I had stopped at the Post Office to mail some items, and while I was affixing stamps a guy in my age range started to chat.

Of course, the threatening weather came up.

He said, “guess I’ll have to go and talk to God about it”. I answered, “I’ll check what happens and see what God had to say about your talk”.

We both chuckled.

We compared notes a bit, in the way that strangers do, dancing into uncharted waters. The deadly mudslide in Washington came up; the drought in California; less predictable and more severe weather generally….

The guy said, “maybe Al Gore knew something back then. Even my wife is starting to think so.”

The demonstrators probably won’t stop the pipeline but maybe they’ll encourage one or two more conversations like the one this fellow and I were having.

Games like this – making change – are played by the inch, not the mile. Dramatic change happens so slowly as to not even be noticed.

I’m thankful those two women caught my eye on Sunday, and that I picked up their literature.

Enroute home I got to thinking about two years ago at almost exactly this date in my town: the temperature was in the low 70s, and the trees were budding….

There was a frost that messed up the budding a few days later, but the difference between two years ago and now was indeed dramatic.

April 2, 2012, Woodbury (suburban St. Paul) MN

April 2, 2012, Woodbury (suburban St. Paul) MN

Native Americans from Red Lake MN used their banner as a windshield in downtown St. Paul April 3, 2014

Native Americans from Red Lake MN used their banner as a windshield in downtown St. Paul April 3, 2014