Promises to keep

Environmentalists were pleased but skeptical when President Obama once again referenced the necessity of combating climate change in 2013. In his inauguration speech on Jan. 21, Obama said, “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But American cannot resist this transition. We must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries. We must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure, our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow-capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.”

But for many sustainability organizations, including the Sierra Club, the words are not enough. Obama has been quiet on opposing issues such as the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport natural gas from Canada to Texas, and drilling for fossil fuels in the Arctic despite the potentially devastating impact on the region.

In a blog post written by Sierra Club director Michael Brune, he announced the Sierra Club’s endorsement of peaceful civil disobedience, stating “For civil disobedience to be justified, something must be so wrong that it compels the strongest defensible protest. … We’re issuing a challenge to President Obama. … We need the president to match them with strong action and use the first 100 days of his second term to begin building a bold and lasting legacy of clean energy and climate stability.”

However, some critics pointed out that the Sierra Club’s actions haven’t matched up with its mission, including an upcoming rally set for Feb. 17 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The rally is dubbed #ForwardOnClimate and is intended to be “the largest climate rally in history.” According to the website, the rally will not include “direct action, civil disobedience or civil resistance. … We will have permits and work openly with the police about plans for the rally.”

One commenter replied, “That’s it? How … safe.”

View Brune’s blog post and comments at