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02/12/2013

Stand Up For Our Lands, Stand Up to Fix the Climate Crisis

Polar-bear-costumer1(Photo: Jennifer Rudolph)

The threat of climate change has become a dangerous new reality. The evidence is everywhere – once-in-a-lifetime weather events are occurring even more rapidly than once-a-year, fuelled by the burning of fossil fuels that drives a changing climate. Whether it is record droughts in the American Midwest, devastating wildfires in Colorado and Oregon, or unprecedented storms like Sandy, over the last year extreme weather has become the new normal.

The cost of dirty energy usage and climate disruption on our lands isn’t limited to what is dried out, flooded, or burned – it’s much worse and much longer lasting than that. Many of the public lands that Americans use to recreate and relax are being targeted by dirty energy companies for drilling and mining that would forever alter some of our most beautiful landscapes. There is a rush for dirty fuels in the West, and places like the Greater Canyonlands in Utah, Otero Mesa in New Mexico, and even the Grand Canyon in Arizona are being eyed for exploitation that would guarantee the places Americans love to visit would be never be the same.

Dirty energy exploitation of our public lands throws a one-two punch at places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. There, destructive drilling would not only ruin the pristine landscape – it would dredge up more dirty fuel that will only further melt the Arctic when burned into our climate.

Of course, threats to our lands from the climate crisis also pose great threats to all the diverse species that inhabit them – humans and wildlife. A new study from the National Wildlife Federation indicates that as our planet warms, some wildlife can no longer handle the stress. Migration patterns are being dramatically disrupted and species like polar bears and walrus are struggling to survive as their habitat disappears.

There’s a solution that can protect our lands and wildlife from dirty energy exploitation and climate disruption: action. With the stroke of a pen, President Obama can protect our cherished landscapes, preserve the Arctic, and keep the dirty fuels that have caused our climate crisis in the ground. But we have to do everything we can to make sure our elected leaders know we support them in making the right decision by putting our American wild legacy before dirty energy profits.

As part of Sierra Club’s 100 Days of Action on Climate and Clean Energy, we are joining 350.org, the Hip-Hop Caucus, and over 130 partner organizations are holding the largest climate rally in history on Sunday, February 17 in Washington, D.C. The “Forward on Climate” rally will give us the chance to speak up for the wildlife and special places that don’t have a voice in this fight. Together, we will call on President Obama to say no to drilling in the Arctic and yes to protecting our public lands – but we can’t do it without your help. That’s why we need you to RSVP today at forwardonclimate.org to join concerned citizens from all across the country urging climate action now.

Stand up this President’s Day weekend and demand that President Obama and policy makers do the right thing: reject dirty energy, take action on climate, and save our wild places for generations to come.

--Kristen Elmore, Sierra Club Media Team

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