From Green Right Now Reports

Climate change is a contentious, complicated and seemingly intractable issue.

It’s also the issue that trumps all others, in the eyes of many, because failing to win the fight against climate change could mean the end of  human existence as we know it.

That sounds overly dramatic to skeptics, but to those who believe the warnings of scientists worldwide that climate change is out of the gate and out of control (or who’ve suffered in the world’s worsening droughts, heatwaves and hurricanes), the matter tends to make all other political issues shrink by comparison. Punish the big banks? What banks? They were washed away with Manhattan!

Obama climate rally Feb. 17, 2013Climate activists will be making this case, that climate change should be at the very top of the U.S. political agenda, at a climate rally this Saturday, Feb. 17 on the National Mall in Washington D.C..

The Forward on Climate rally, being organized by, Sierra Club and the Hip Hop Caucus plans to press President Obama to aggressively combat the greenhouse gases causing climate change. They want him to begin by denying the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, a project that would add a heavy carbon burden to the planet, but also has heavyweight support in Congress. Many lawmakers see Canada’s tar sands as an easy way to add to the world’s oil supply, while lessening dependence on oil from hostile sources.

Activists also want Obama to champion clean energy as a replacement for polluting fossil fuels, to that end, many at the rally will call for  oil subsidies to stop.

Thousands of demonstrators are expected from around the country. Dozens of citizens’ and environmental groups, along with many businesses, are supporting the rally. (See the list here.) Supporters include everyone from Greenpeace and Faith, Power & Light to the makers of the upcoming film about climate denial, Greedy Lying Bastards.

The President’s Day rally is focusing on the White House, because Obama mentioned climate change as a priority for his second term in his inaugural address and also because a decision on the Keystone pipeline could come any day. The Obama Administration delayed final approval for the intercontinental pipeline from Alberta to Texas last year after Nebraskans raised concerns about its threat to the sensitive SandHills region where the Ogallala Aquifer comes close to the surface. A leak of toxic diluted tar sands oil in that region could contaminate water that millions rely upon.

Since that delay, the Nebraska legislature and governor have approved an alternative route, though many believe the Ogallala is still threatened. In addition, opposition among landowners and activists along the 1,700-mile pipeline route has remained steady. Over the fall and winter, protesters staged numerous actions against the pipeline along the Texas segment, which already has been approved and is under construction.

Keystone has been a lightning rod in the climate debate because tar sands mining causes heavy damage to the earth and represents a relatively inefficient way of extracting oil. It destroys forests, consumes billions of gallons of water and even requires that the tarry oil product be heated and diluted before it can be piped out. In addition, spills have demonstrated that it’s harder to clean up than conventional crude.

Getting ready for the rally, several Hollywood stars, joined by a few environmental celebrities, sent a letter to Obama today asking him to seize the issue and secure climate action as his legacy.

Stars letter Obama

Learn more in this video featuring Sierra’s Michael Brune and Bill McKibben, founder of