Monday, November 07, 2016

DAPL rally in Rochester wakes up local media on Climate Change–sort of

Rochester’s local media probably wouldn’t have shown up to yesterday’s rally against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) if this massive fossil fuel infrastructure development hadn’t been such a wickedly ill-conceived boondoggle. This violent power grab of Native American’s burial grounds, which threats their water, has garnered worldwide attention and motivated hundreds of Rochesterians, including Congresswoman, Louise Slaughter to speak in support of the #NoDAPL protesters.

World attention has focused on the horrific police response to Native Americans protesting the destruction of their own lands (in their own nation). Even mainstream media cannot suppress the brutal and craven treatment by the fossil fuel industry when those people get a sniff of more oily profits.  All you have to do is go to #NoDAPL on Twitter and Facebook to find hundreds of thousands of citizen testimonials to the importance of the Dakota lands to their people—and the brutal treatment inflicted on them as they attempt to protect their birth right.

Several local media ‘covered’ the Rochester rally but only one even hinted at the important backdrop in which this tragedy is unfolding--Climate Change.

·         Rochester protests Dakota Access Pipeline The protest took place downtown at the Liberty Pole Support on stopping an oil pipeline in North Dakota has reached Rochester. The Dakota Access Pipeline would run near a Sioux reservation. Those who oppose the pipeline say it would damage sacred Indian ground, and damage the ecosystem. Popular movie stars like Shailene Woodley and Mark Ruffalo are just a few who have spoken out against the pipeline. Woodley even was a protester and was arrested. (November 5, 2016
·         Rochester protesters decry North Dakota pipeline A crowd of Rochester protesters denounced the Dakota Access Pipeline on Saturday, pointing to its potential effect on drinking water and Native American burial sites along its planned route. The pipeline, which was approved over the summer, would carry a half million barrels of crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois daily. Native American groups in the area have protested its construction for weeks, and police clashes have resulted in dozens of arrests and reports of protesters being attacked or hit with rubber bullets. (November 5, 2016 Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)
·         Rochester protesters rally for 'Standing Rock' Sioux tribe Hundreds of people lined the streets of Downtown Rochester Saturday in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline project. It’s an oil pipeline that will stretch 1,200 miles underground through the Missouri River. It has garnered national attention because part of the river is the primary drinking source for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in central North and South Dakota. (November 6, 2016 WHAM Rochester)

This last article, the most responsible of local coverage, does mention that “the pipeline will eventually affect the climate.” But even then, that’s like saying when you light a fuse to a stick of dynamite, the dynamite will ‘eventually’ blow up. It’s true but it doesn’t really capture the compelling causal relationship. When you develop a major fossil fuel infrastructure you are immediately threatening our future because we are already slated to overshoot a safe level of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Our media still hasn’t grasped that Climate Change is happening, not eventually, but right now. It would have been nice if they could have put the tragedy in the Dakotas in the proper context—a world already too warm for another major fossil fuel pipeline.

The Paris Agreement, which was just made official this week, has as one of its provisions that we must switch to renewable energy immediately and stop major fossil fuel projects if we are to avoid the worst climate scenarios. Obama has indicated, despite his role in making the Paris Agreement work, that once he finds an alternative pipeline route around the Native American issue he’d be fine with that.

Obama is not getting it; the media are not getting it: Keep it in the ground!  

BTW: The DAPL protests highlight another truth emerging from Climate Change besides endless peer-reviewed science proving we are putting our life support in danger with our greenhouse gas emissions. It’s that disadvantaged communities will suffer the consequences of this great warming the first and worst. They and their supporters around the world are beginning to realize that putting a climate denier at the helm cannot trump the power of the people. 

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