As you read this, citizen activists have dramatically occupied the entrance to a federal building in an act of civil disobedience meant to parallel the great urgency of global warming.
With the impacts of climate change spiraling out of control in the form of wildfires, heat waves, hurricanes, floods, and sea-level rise, protesters gathered this morning at the headquarters of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Silver Spring, MD to demand an immediate change in U.S. policy toward fossil fuels.
Two protesters peacefully occupied a ledge above the building’s front entrance and unfurled a huge banner reading: “Bush: Let NOAA Tell the Truth.” A half dozen more protesters on the ground blocked and occupied the building’s main entrance.
With political influence from the White House, leaders at NOAA have repeatedly ignored or actively suppressed agency science detailing the threat of global warming. NOAA has also blocked journalists from talking to agency scientists who warn about the climate danger. These widely reported actions have drawn growing condemnation from the media and Congressional leaders. (See Greenpeace summary)
Today’s protest is part of an escalating campaign to draw attention to the Bush Administration’s failed policies on global warming. Calling George Bush the nation’s “Denier-in-Chief,” protesters associated with the U.S. Climate Emergency Council and Chesapeake Climate Action Network carried large photos showing climate chaos worldwide.
“Every day, wherever one looks in the world, there are accelerating signs of climate danger,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the U.S. CEC and one of the protesters on the scene. “From satellite imagery from space to measurements deep in our oceans to the daily observations of average Americans, weird and alarming climate impacts are now in plain view. Yet NOAA, in blatant violation of its mission statement, suppresses this truth. And George Bush does nothing. It’s time for concerned citizens to stand up and demand action.”
Protesters called on the Bush Administration to “join reality and the rest of the world” by re-entering the international Kyoto Protocol process designed to cut fossil fuel use. A sensible first step would be for Bush and Congress to drop the utterly failed policy of “voluntary” greenhouse gas reductions and instead adopt a plan similar to the one just signed by Republican California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. That plan calls for a mandatory 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 in California. (read more).
A national effort must include dramatic but feasible improvements in energy efficiency, including an average increase to 40 mpg in the nation’s car and truck fleet. Huge investments in renewable energy, like wind power and certain ethanol fuels, are also needed immediately, the group says.
Protestors chose NOAA for their action because the agency’s politically appointed leadership has failed to fulfill its official mission to warn Americans about “dangerous weather” and “improve our understanding and stewardship of the environment.” The NOAA leadership blatantly ignores or denies the growing scientific evidence of climate chaos, including studies from within NOAA itself.
For example, despite having the words “atmospheric” and “oceanic” in its very name, NOAA’s website contains virtually no reference to the seven major scientific studies in the last 14 months linking atmospheric warming to an observed increase in hurricane intensity. Indeed, according to NOAA scientist Ants Leetmaa, the agency refused to release an internal review by NOAA scientists last May projecting stronger future hurricanes due to global warming. (See USA Today story)
And recent press reports in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and elsewhere show how the NOAA leadership has tried to keep its climate scientists from talking to journalists. In September, U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman called on NOAA to release relevant agency documents after an internal NOAA email showed media officials there intentionally steering an MSNBC journalist away from a climate scientist whose data shows climate impacts to be worsening, something the White House clearly wants to keep from wide public scrutiny. (See Waxman’s website and Salon.com story)
The U.S. CEC, as a result, is today calling for Lautenbacher’s immediate resignation. Such a move would be a good-faith first step in signaling the Bush Administration’s willingness, finally, to begin protecting Americans from the economic, agricultural, environmental and national-security harm global warming is beginning to cause.
What You Can Do Right Now
1. Travel to the Silver Spring protest site now and show your support for the activists peacefully occupying the NOAA entrance
The protest is at:
1305 East-West Highway,
Silver Spring, MD 20910
In the plaza near the “Wave Pool.” Use mapquest or walk one block south along East-West Highway from the Silver Spring Metro.
The protest may last all day and into the early evening. Come and simply observe/applaud. We’ll also have placards for you to hold or leaflets to hand out.
2. Send an email to Bush and your Congressperson demanding they take meaningful steps TODAY to address global warming
3. Forward this article to your friends and family