Environmental rally looks at local, national work to be done

(Gretchen Christensen/Madison Commons)(Gretchen Christensen/Madison Commons)Members of environmental organizations staged a rally on the steps of the Capitol building protesting the use of fossil fuels.

This rally was held Saturday, Dec. 12 to address the outcome of the Paris climate change summit, as well as to protest the proposed construction of a pipeline that would bring tar sands through Wisconsin.

Tar sands are mixtures of sand, clay, and an asphalt-like substance called bitumen—which can be refined into oil—and are notoriously difficult to clean up if spilled.

“Keep it in the ground” was the evening’s catchphrase and hashtag, encouraging the use of less fossil fuel and more renewable energy.

Ben Peterson, a member of 350 Madison, was part of the committee that organized the rally. He said there will be more events in the coming months, as they oppose the proposed Enbridge pipeline and advocate against fossil fuel usage.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done yet, and we’re ready to do it,” he said.

Sierra Club Director Spencer Black said that while the climate talks in Paris are a step in the right direction, both grassroots efforts and voting in national and local elections are still necessary to make sure that nations uphold the deals that they agreed to.

“We’ve come this far. We can’t stop now. We have to go forward, because literally the future of our planet is in the balance,” he said.

Speakers Madeleine Para, Don Ferber, Beth Esser, and Peter Anderson of local climate activism groups also encouraged involvement at national and local levels and continued demonstrations.

“Climate change is not a spectator sport,” Anderson said.

The rally lasted for almost two hours and drew a crowd of 275 people, according to Anderson.