We are so, so grateful for all of your support at our trials…and we have one more thing to ask of you, if you have time.
A few papers in the Midwest and West had op-eds (or articles or letters to the editor) about the trial that were a little slanted against us; others were neutral, but may have negative comments in the comments section. Here are some of the places that had articles (and we’ll update this list, so check later if you can!) This doesn’t matter so much for us, but it does matter for the movement, especially for the fights that are heating up right now, like Line 3, so whenever possible, we want to reframe the issues for the general public, from our point of view. You might also want to look to see if your local paper ran the AP story.
Can you write a Letter to the Editor, if you see something you think is unfair? Or can you jump into the online comments section, and try to offer a climate-friendly perspective?
Letters and comments are generally short, and should come from your own perspective (do you garden or farm? have you seen a change in the health of the forests near you? did you experience something that made you alarmed about climate change? are you a pastor or teacher who’s had a particular experience with your flock/kids about climate change?). Here’s one good guide, and here’s another. If you can say what you want to say in under 200 words, it’s more likely to be published, but you can write up to 300 (if your local paper doesn’t say not to).
Be polite–even when others are not; people will read the comments, and seeing you talk reasonably and with information against those who merely inflame or skew, will matter. Some talking points might be:
That we need to move off of all fossil fuels, as the IPCC report made clear (here’s a good backgrounder on that), but that tar sands oil is the very dirtiest, and in 2015, scientists said that by 2020 we had to be burning “negligible” amounts of it if we want a stable climate.
That MN neurologist Dr. Bruce Snyder has pointed out that because of the health impacts of fossil fuels, as well as spills and climate change, the fossil fuel companies are taxing all of us–they’re not paying for the health and other costs they’re creating, we are.
That the political system is broken because of oil industry money, and that when systems are broken in an immoral way (as in the times when slavery was legal, or women couldn’t vote, or Jews were being sent to concentration camps), breaking the law can be the moral thing to do (think underground railroad, or Raoul Wallenberg), and can also make real political change (think lunch counter sit-ins).
That we took great care in our action, with multiple safety calls to the pipeline companies, and that Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, who was lead author of the American Petroleum Institute pipeline safety manual, said that not only did we NOT cause harm, we PREVENTED harm (because fossil fuels are dangerous).
But most of all, don’t worry too much about it being scientific or perfect–using your own voice and experience is great! If you met us and respected us, you can say that too….as a local, you have a lot more authority than we do, and the main thing we’re hoping to garner from these letters is that people understand that reasonable folks locally are 1. worried about climate change and 2. have reason to be sympathetic to people like us, who are trying to shake things up so that all of their children have a future.
A million thanks!
Emily, Annette, Ben & the whole Shut it Down team