In her speech to the environmental coalition rally against the Keystone XL pipeline in Portland Saturday, September 21st, philosopher Kathleen Dean Moore took aim at the fossil fuel industry.
She called it out for trying to externalize its shame onto people who use its products. “We are not the enemy,” she said. When you consider the shady actions this industry is taking to keep people dependent on its products, she said, the appropriate response is moral outrage.
The 400 member audience responded enthusiastically to Moore’s words, interrupting often with applause. She announced that she is stepping down from her professorship at Oregon State University to devote herself to climate activism. She has written books on the moral implications of climate change.
“The climate crisis is a moral crisis,” she said, and it’s time for people to stop giving up in despair or hiding behind blind optimism and start accepting their role as responsible persons faced with difficult choices.
The rally was part of the national 350.org demonstration to draw the line against the Keystone XL pipeline that will, if approved, carry tar oil from Canada to the Gulf coast. Participants formed a symbolic green line to show their opposition to the pipeline.
The local gathering included workshops on divestment from fossil fuel companies, strategies for dealing with the proposed coal and oil terminals in the area, and writing comments and testimonies. Moore said that we are at a pivot point in human history and we can influence how it turns out by acting morally.
The event was co-hosted by 350 PDX, Oregon Interfaith Power and Light, Greenpeace, and Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility. Mining the tar sands not only destroys a vast area of wildlife habitat, but also pumps tons of carbon into the atmosphere. According to oil industry consultants Cambridge Energy Research Associates, producing and processing tar sands oil results in roughly 14 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than the average oil currently used in the U.S.
Gathering at First United Methodist Church in Portland on Saturday, September 21st, to listen to philosopher Kathleen Dean Moore speak to the moral imperative to act on climate change, followed by workshops and a photo action against Keystone XL.