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Posted on Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 9:35 a.m.

Ann Arborites and University of Michigan students head to Forward on Climate rally in Washington D.C.

By Amy Biolchini

An Ann Arbor contingent of residents and University of Michigan students will trek to Washington D.C. this weekend to participate in a national Forward on Climate rally.

The rally is calling for the federal government to block proposed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline project that would carry tar sands from Alberta, Canada to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Monica Patel, a policy specialist at the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, coordinated a group from Washtenaw County traveling to the capitol for a rally in two buses.

They will join buses from Battle Creek, Detroit, East Lansing and Traverse City traveling to the rally, where people from 30 states will gather to call on President Barack Obama to reject the pipeline and continue to push for clean energy alternatives.

Activists will convene on the National Mall at noon Sunday.

“The reason that people are going is that it’s a really exciting time,” Patel said. “President Obama has mentioned now in two speeches.”

Both U.S. Sens. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, are on important committees, Patel said, noting it’s important for Michigan to show strong support.

Two buses are leaving at 10 p.m. Saturday from Ann Arbor and driving all night to Washington D.C. The rally is slated to start at noon and end at 4 p.m., after which the participants are slated to drive back to Michigan and arrive in Ann Arbor about 6 a.m. Monday.

“President Obama’s been asking people to show that they care about issues,” Patel said. “I think that this is going to do that for him on the climate: A lot of federal incentives packages have really made a difference for wind energy.”

Among those traveling to D.C. is Lissa Spitz, who works at A3C, a sustainability-focused architecture firm in Ann Arbor.

“I would love to see a huge outpouring (at the rally) … It gives me a little more faith in people,” Spitz said. “When I look at the general American population, I feel like they’re either not aware, or don’t have the energy or something to deal with it. … We really need political movement.”

Spitz said regional transit efforts in Southeast Michigan have been poorly coordinated, and she hopes the rally will help heighten climate issues for lawmakers.

Karla Pena is a 26-year-old master’s student at U-M’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment.

She’s coordinating a caravan of 12 students going to the rally that are involved with the Latin American Caribbean Environmental Group at U-M.

“It’s powerful to be in a situation where you can make an impact just by the power of numbers,” Pena said. “Here in Michigan we do have the wind power, and we’re trying to diversify an energy matrix. We’re trying to find alternative forms of energy and decrease energy consumption across the state.”

The Keystone XL pipeline works against efforts in Michigan to use alternative forms of energy, Pena said.

Ryan Stock, 29, is one of the students traveling with Pena to D.C. He’s a master’s student working on a capstone project on climate change adaptations in the Great Lakes region.

“If students aren’t willing to put ourselves on the front line of the issue, really, who will?” Stock said. “The Keystone XL pipeline will accomplish the opposite of energy security for this country.”

Effects of climate change in the Great Lakes region have already been seen, Stock said: Increased acidification of lake water, decrease in lake levels and a heightened number of heat event days.

“Business as usual is both morally wrong and slow-motion suicide for human civilization as we know it,” Stock said.

Stock said he believes environmental consciousness has become mainstream.

“What we’re doing is just being responsible citizens,” Stock said.

The rally is being organized by, the Sierra Club and the Hip-Hop Caucus.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.


martini man

Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 11:22 p.m.

I saw on the news that some of these left wing "activists" were arrested in DC today. Looks like they are taking their lead from the OCCUPY movement. All the talk about global warming and climate change seems to be just a ruse to validate their pathetic behaviour. I think the ones arrested were part of the Suckierra Club. Not sure if Becky Warren and her two boy toys were there or not. But I am sure they were at least there in spirit.What a mess..what a mess !!!


Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

Whoops, somehow my last post self-posted in mid sentence. In contrast, many aspects of our economy will decline unless we move our economy away from carbon. As one example, the agriculture of Michigan, heavily dependent on fruit crops, is probably destined to fade over the next few decades unless we minimize climate change. DId anybody notice what happened to the cherry, blueberry, and apple crops last year? As another example, Michigan's winter tourism industry has declined for 2 winters due to warmer temps and less snow. The bigger issue, however, is the moral issue of whether we want to live a beautiful and livable planet for future generations. For those who offer the curious example that ice ages come and go, think about what life was like in MIchigan during the last ice age. There is nothing inherently left-wing about preventing the degradation of our planet by the burning of carbon. The similarity between "conservatism" and "conservation" is not just in the letters but in the meaning of these words.

G. Orwell

Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 4:58 p.m.

@Larry Climate has always changed. It's nothing new. We have good weather, we have bad weather. We have occasional severe fluctuations in our weather.


Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

I am with them in spirit and wish I were going. The long-term economics clearly favor getting rid of our addiction to burnt carbon. Building sustainable energy sources will create a lot of jobs. In contrast, many aspects of our economy will decline


Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 3:55 p.m.

Its been tried they usually go bankrupt and we pay for it!


Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 4:49 a.m.

What a crock - this economy will never thrive again without cheap energy, so drill baby drill, and build Keystone too... start playing hardball with OPEC and twisting their arms till they do the right thing, and tune-up Bernanke's knee caps till he quits printing money and destroying the dollar, which is the primary reason oil is $97 a barrel. We are in the midst of an economic war, so we need to do what needs to be done... get on with it - oops, I forgot all we got is Obummer - fuhgeddaboudit! Try again in 4 years, if we get somebody with a pair in the White House.

G. Orwell

Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 1 a.m.

"The Great Global Warming Swindle." Maybe the people going to the event will watch this movie and think for themselves.


Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 12:20 a.m.

Ahhh the idiom of "clean energy" LOL

G. Orwell

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 11:57 p.m.

"The Great Global Warming Swindle." Maybe the students going to the event will watch this movie and think for themselves.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 11 p.m.

It must be great being in the government and having all of these young people with no life experience to manipulate ........................

Superior Twp voter

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 8:59 p.m.

Sad to read this tale of misguided souls and ideals. Laughable that these "save the world" types are using "dirty oil" to go protest. Obviously they wish to continue buying "foreign oil" rather than utilize our North American resources - and be held captive to artificial pricing - and they are O K with China, et al, purchasing this Canadian product rather than their own country. Such patriots. Liberal elites, trying to make certain we live our lives the way THEY want us to. DIsgusting.

Eat Local A2

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 8:31 p.m.

It's not about environmental policy, otherwise this group's mission under the Left's umbrella would be focused on the filthy but economically expedient methods of the use of energy resources by the Chinese. But the Chinese get a pass since they are collectivists and share an affinity with the Left for concentrating unchecked power in the hands of a few, and their human rights abuses of minority peoples are less than transparent to the World. It's sad that these students are pawns in this, because the game is bigger than they realize and they are jumping on a bandwagon that has a lot more history than they realize. Do they really think that when the industrialized democracies are stagnant, politically broken, and saddled with debt and confiscatory tax systems that the world will be in a good place to make the prudent and cost-effective transitions away from fossil fuels that are inevitable regardless of one's politics?


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 11:02 p.m.

Well put, you'll certainly get lots of thumb down votes with thinking like that............


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 8:07 p.m.

Congrats to the people making the trip - I think this is a great example of what you can and should do in a free democracy - make your voice heard in a meaningful and united way. In terms of the carbon used for the trip, at least it is carbon well spent. And just as a refresher on climate vs. weather - yes, weather does change day to day, but climate is reflected in longer-term changes in highs and lows and if you haven't been reading the paper lately then you may have missed the shattering of records over the past year(s) and the rapid melt of Arctic ice and the Greenland ice sheet. Earth may have survived many things in the past, but now we have 7+ billion people, wanting to achieve the standards of living we have long enjoyed in the U.S. - I don't see how anyone can compare conditions today with those 10,000, 1,000 or even 100 years ago.


Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 1 a.m.

@ Mike . Yes, that is precisely what "we" are doing. As in me (in terms of the people traveling to Washington, D.C.) and as in "you" (when you criticize the President flying around). So if you don't want anyone telling anyone else "when and where we can travel," why don't you start with your own advice. Of course, that is not what people do in an open society. We discuss, disagree, and debate the merits of issues. Actually, in the case of the President, I agree that he should be concerned about his carbon emissions. And see, that is the point of having an opinion and talking about these things, b/c we might actually be able to realize that we agree about certain issues and find common ground where we could try to effect change.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 11:05 p.m.

Now we are deciding which carbon is well spent an which isn't? When the president travels the globe on a continuous basis at tax payer expense in a time when these things can be done on-line is that a good use of carbon? Give me a break! Don't tell the rest of us when and where we can travel please.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 8 p.m.

If you want clean air and civilization you need to support nuclear energy use. Nuclear power is needed to support a continuing growing demand for electricity and power. Wind, solar, and other "alternative" energies are going to cut it. Maybe in certain spot situations but they can never produce enough to supply the demands of our current energy usage let alone future growing usage.

Clay Moore

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 7:09 p.m.

I predict that the weather tomorrow will be different than the weather was yesterday. That should be enough incentive for all climate change alarmists to start flapping their left wings and head to the "Chicken Little Sky is Falling" rally. The fact that the earth has endured several Ice Ages, Polarity Reversals, Magnetic shifts, Volcano's, Meteor Impacts (that wiped out the dinosaurs, Earthquakes, dramatic increases in Sunspot radiation, massive Solar Eruptions, changes in earths rotation and solar orbit etc. mean nothing. Man and man alone is responsible for climate cooling or is it climate warming or, I remember now ..... climate change. Geeze, this is what happens when government supported climatologists get in bed with the politicians who want more tax money to spend and opportunists like George Soros who wants to regulate and sell "Carbon Tax Credits".

Top Cat

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 6:56 p.m.

What do they think makes their two buses run, pin wheels and solar panels?


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 6:22 p.m.

A bunch of Canutes standing on the shoreline ordering the tide to halt. Good luck!


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 4:21 p.m.

I'd also like to ask who exactly are they trying to make sure hears their message this weekend? Congress started another 2 week recess Friday and the president is spending the weekend in Florida.

Dog Guy

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 4:04 p.m.

My fear is that the Pied Piper will lead these University of Michigan students back after the Forward on Climate rally. I did wonder what happened to all those "Forward with President Obama" circles.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 3:53 p.m.

@walking joe: Right, they'll do that about the same time Al Gore parks his private jet and starts riding a bike.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 11:19 p.m.

Al Gore owns a private jet? What's the tail number?


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

If these folks are so worried about climate change and the environment why are they taking buses? How about cycling or walking?


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 3:20 p.m.

They'll be walking and eating bird food along the way so as to not leave too much of a carbon footprint.

Homeland Conspiracy

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 4:28 p.m.

That means a bird will go hungry!


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

When one of the groups organizing this rally is called Hip-Hop Caucus, I have to wonder. In case these folks hadn't noticed, crude oil has been hovering a little under $100 a barrel. Econ 101 is about supply and demand. With demand so high, supply is tight and the price keeps going up. If these folks are willing to pay, that is OK with me. Wind and solar farms are good but not the end all answers.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 11:08 p.m.

Crude is hovering around $100 because of the de-valuing of our currency, demand is down and has been for some time. When demand goes up (if ever) gas will cost $7.00 per gallon.

Erica Ackerman

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 6:18 p.m.

The problem is that there is what economists call a "missing market" for the atmosphere -- it is currently free to emit carbon, so there is not price mechanism to motivate people to switch to cleaner fuels. But it isn't really "free" to emit carbon -- we all pay for it in the long run.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 5:20 p.m.

When do they talk about externalities, Econ 102? You shouldn't have quit your economics education so quickly.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

Are the participants paying there own way? That's all I want to know.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 8:08 p.m.

Erica Any one of a number of tax payer funded entities would be foolish enough to waste funds in this manner! Have fun!

Erica Ackerman

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 6:14 p.m.

Of course we are paying our own way. Who do you imagine would be doing it for us?


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 4:39 p.m.

Apparently there are some who think I should fund this junket !