Late on a frigid winter night in the middle of February, thirty-or-so Huskies gathered by Ruggles as they waited for a coach bus. These students—mainly members of the Husky Environmental Action Team—were preparing to make change in the world by demonstrating their opposition to the proposed construction of the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline, a project that would transport tar sands petroleum from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast.
These eco-conscious students oppose the pipeline for many reasons, namely the risk of oil spills along the pipeline (which would pollute air and water and harm wildlife) and the fact that extraction of oil from tar sands creates more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional extraction.
The group slept (or at least tried to!) on the overnight bus, and woke up the next morning to the beautiful sites of Washington, D.C. Braving the bitter cold, on February 17th, HEAT’s members joined an estimated 40,000 other concerned citizens to march in the Forward on Climate Rally, led by environmentalist Bill McKibben’s 350.org. The rally included many more people than predicted, all of whom demanded that President Obama repeal the proposition of the KXL and thus keep the environment—and its human inhabitants—safe.
The rally began with speeches on the National Mall at the Washington Monument. Speakers included Bill McKibben himself, Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and leaders of Native American groups in Alberta and Oklahoma, who described the massive destruction the pipeline would bring to their lands.
After the crowd was riled up, the march to the White House began. In solidarity, HEAT members and the other 40,000 peaceful activists waved posters and yelled creative chants that urged for action against climate change. Although Obama was not home (he was out golfing in Florida with leaders of the Texas oil industry—no joke), the rally’s participants were able to come together, share ideas, and become even more inspired to create positive environmental change in the country and across the planet.
Was the rally a success? Certainly so. McKibben even tweeted after the event: “Today was one of the best days of my life, because I saw the movement come together finally, big and diverse and gorgeous.”
HEAT got to witness this firsthand, and the passion and determination seen at the rally will surely fuel the organization as they move toward other ambitious opportunities to mitigate climate change, both on campus and around the world.
This blog post was written by HEAT’s Director of Administration, Angela Mroz, Environmental Studies – Writing Minor.
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