FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 3, 2014
Dr. James Hansen, Dr. Michael E. Mann, and Bill McKibben Co-author an Open Letter on Behalf of the Enbridge 3
Three of the climate movements’ most iconic figures co-authored an open letter sent to Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart J. Dunnings and Judge William E. Collette asking for leniency in sentencing.
The Honorable William Collette
Ingham Circuit Court Judge
341 S. Jefferson
Mason, MI 48854
Dear Judge Collette,
We are scientists and writers who have published extensively on the issue of global warming, and we are writing to express our support for the intentions and efforts of the protesters from the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands now awaiting sentencing in your court.
There are two points in particular that we feel are important to understand:
1) Climate change is an urgent crisis already occurring. The rapid acidification of our oceans, and the elevated temperature of the planet, should remind us daily that the combustion of fossil fuels has already pushed the global climate system past the bounds of the Holocene. Much greater rises in temperature are expected unless we quickly curb the use of coal, gas, and oil. In particular, the tarsands formation in Canada that concerns these protesters holds a vast quantity of carbon, and if it is fully exploited it would exacerbate the climate predicament considerably.
2) Other means have been tried, repeatedly, with little success. Each of us has testified before Congress, some of us repeatedly. We have attended international conferences for decades, written large-scale reports and books, and lobbied elected officials. But we have found that the political system in most nations has not reacted with anything like the speed that the science demands. This is the classic situation where the need to engage in political protest and civil disobedience finds firm support in American history.
In the case of these facts, we hope you will exercise discretion and mercy in sentencing these women. We are reminded, for instance, that Dr. Martin Luther King never spent more than 30 consecutive days in jail throughout his career of civil disobedience, a career that at the time was the object of much scorn and fury but which in retrospect is a source of pride to all Americans.
Dr. James Hansen, Atmospheric physicist and retired Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies
Bill McKibben, Author, co-founder of 350.org, Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College
Dr. Michael E. Mann, Director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University