The Tar Sands, Hydro-fracking, and Climate Reality

After the failure of the climate negotiations in Copenhagen 18 months ago, it seemed to me that the environmental movement was taking a long pause, trying to figure out how to engage the American population in the greatest challenge of our time. It seems to me now that this pause has ended, with a flurry of new activity that I’ve seen recently encouraging action on energy and climate change.

There are three campaigns that I’ve recently become familiar with, and I will mention them with an eye toward what they are fighting and the difference they hope to make.

The first campaign is the Tar Sands Action, which is intended to stop a project bringing oil to the United States from the tar sands in Canada. According to “[The Tar Sands are] a massive operation that people are calling the most environmentally destructive project on the planet. Right now, President Obama is considering signing a permit to allow the development of a new pipeline that would pump over a million dollars of "dirty tar sands" oil from Canada to the United States.” The Keystone XL pipeline cannot be built without a “presidential permit” from the Obama Administration. is organizing a petition and seeking to get 35,000 signatures to request that the permit be denied. Sign the petition here: There is also a separate “civil disobedience” campaign planned to prevent this project, which will take place in Washington, DC in late August. Learn more at

The second campaign is the Climate Reality project, spearheaded by none other than Al Gore. This project aims to address the misinformation about climate change, through a one-day educational campaign on September 14. According to the website, “24 Hours of Reality will focus the world’s attention on the full truth, scope, scale and impact of the climate crisis. To remove the doubt. Reveal the deniers. And catalyze urgency around an issue that affects every one of us.” A movie is currently circulating the web promoting the campaign. To view the movie and sign up to get involved, visit

The third campaign is organized by the Shalom Center and being taken up by other Jewish environmental organizations, seeking to address issues related to hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), is seeking to address activities to draw natural gas from in the Marcellus Shale region in Pennsylvania, New York State, and nearby areas. According to the Shalom Center: “On September 7-8, the national commercial association of companies that are ‘fracking’ shale rock regions – fracturing the rocks by forcing tons of poisonous chemicalized water into them so as to force natural gas out — will gather for a national convention in Philadelphia.” Concerned with the potential water damage from fracking activity, the goal is to organize at least 2500 people for an interfaith demonstration. A related issue is the question of four Jewish camps who have signed agreements to allow fracking on their land (see my blog on this topic: To learn more about the Shalom Center’s efforts, visit

Three different campaigns, several different models (petition, civil disobedience, education via social media, and interfaith gathering), all trying to address our massive energy problem in a time of global economic challenge and political deadlock. Which of these do you think will be most effective? Which are you most inspired to join? What kind of campaign would you like to see?

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