Local residents travel far to call on politiciansArea News
-- On the weekend of Feb. 16-17 two mother-daughter duos traveled to Washington, D.C. to have their voices heard -- their message: say no to the Keystone XL, an oil pipeline that is proposed to connect lines from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
By: Jillian Dexheimer , Pierce County Herald
On the weekend of Feb. 16-17 two mother-daughter duos traveled to Washington, D.C. to have their voices heard -- their message: say no to the Keystone XL, an oil pipeline that is proposed to connect lines from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
After attending a speech by Bill McKibben called “Do the Math” at the University of Minnesota, Katie Chaffee; her daughter, Anna Zalusky; Jill Schneider; and Rainbow Barry -- Schneider’s daughter -- felt the call to join the 35,000-40,000 protestors descending on the nation’s capital to bring attention to climate change in the form of a rally called “Forward on Climate”.
According to Chaffee “Do the Math” has a simple message -- if we produce too much carbon dioxide the Earth’s temperature will continue to rise.
Chaffee said the “… oil that the XL pipeline will turn loose in the atmosphere is more than enough to do us in.”
Zalusky said that the oil pipe project was picked because it is something President Obama can do something about.
Chaffee also pointed out the tangibility of the project as something that made it ideal to represent the protestors’ climate changing concerns.
The same pipeline was considered a year ago, but Obama delayed the decision so that more studies could be done.
So far Obama has been tight lipped about whether he will approve the pipeline or not this time around.
Chaffee mentioned that while the protestors were in front of the White House, Obama was in Florida golfing with oil representatives.
After leaving Minneapolis, Minn., at 2 p.m. on Feb. 16, the group, which totaled about 200, traveled on a small bus through the night and arrived in D.C. at about 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 17.
They then proceeded to the rally, which included speakers from noon-4 p.m. as well as a march to the White House.
With wind chills reaching zero the group found warmth in a building lobby while waiting to board the bus on Sunday evening. They then travelled through the night back to the Midwest.
While Schneider found the rally very inspiring she was disappointed that there was not a bigger crowd, but cited the cold and wind as a possible reason.
She noted the varied crowd -- young, old, young parents with children.
Zalusky said about her experience at the rally, “It was neat to see all the diversity, lots of college kids.”
Chaffee commented, “It was exciting for Jill and I to be with our daughters -- we are so proud of them.”
According to Chaffee and Zalusky another rally is planned around Earth Day -- April 22.
The biggest thing the movement, which is highlighted on 350.org, needs is exposure said Schneider, “Anything to draw attention to the situation.”
When asked why climate change should matter, Chaffee said, “All groups are drastically affected by climate change. The problem comes in figuring out what to do.”
She said only a small percentage of people are invested. While others acknowledge the problem, many feel that there is nothing that can be done about it.
“Part of the problem is exposure, very few people understand the process,” said Chaffee.
Zalusky sees climate change as something that “…affects the health and wellbeing of every living thing on the planet including your children.”
She went on to say it’s no longer a third world issue.
Zalusky cited Superstorm Sandy and the ongoing drought as examples of how people in the United States are starting to feel the effect of climate change.
“It (the drought) is a direct result of burning fossil fuels,” said Schneider.
“We’re okay now, we’re not being threatened right now,” said Zalusky. “The threat is theoretical, abstract, but we are on a path we won’t be able to stop.”
Schneider adds, “It’s a moot point if we can’t grow food or drink water.”
Both Chaffee and Zalusky feel the threat to our planet is immediate.
“We are going to reach a point where we cannot undo what we have done,” said Zalusky.
Policy change, according to Zalusky, would go the furthest in reducing the climate issues. She suggests increasing political pressure to induce theses changes.
At home Zalusky has taken steps to reduce her effect on the climate. Those include: purchasing local food, reducing driving, heating the house with wood, drying clothes on a line, and getting more energy efficient appliances.
She suggested getting a meter from the library or River Falls Municipal Utilities to see how much energy is being used by appliances.
Zalusky sees “…us being at the beginning of the process and starting to move towards a more sustainable life.”
For her, sustainable means “…everyone can live this way and there would still be enough for the next generation”
When buying stuff, Zalusky asks herself, “Do I really need this?”
Chafee sees the problem as being a disconnect from nature, “We feel we are the peak (of the food chain) rather than part of it.”
Said Zalusky: “Everybody is at a different place, you need to start to examine the things you can do.”