By Jeff Smith

In Montana we have a front-row seat to the human drama of our institutions failing us on climate change. Ninety-seven percent of earth scientists are telling us what we’re seeing is the result of greenhouse gases and a warming climate, yet we elect people who choose policies that accelerate the very things that are degrading our rivers, our forests, and this magnificent place we love!

If you’re on the fence about joining us in Butte this Monday at our RENEWABLES NOW!!! RALLY, I’m writing in the hope that you will climb down on our side of the fence and join us.

At NorthWestern Energy the experts don’t like solar or wind energy and are pricing it beyond its feasibility. Instead, they are planning a new generation of fossil fuel generators, $1.3 billion worth. The gorilla in the room is that these experts don’t even mention climate change. The biggest data point in their equationis our dying rivers and brittle forests, and our two largest industries, tourism and agriculture, poised on the tipping points of higher temperatures and less water.

That’s why we’re gathering in Butte at 11am at Emma Park.

The pundits and the lulling droners in the media say that’s just the way it is, there’s nothing you can do, the fossil fuel cowboys are too powerful, they have all our politicians on their payroll, why don’t you just put your feet up in your easy chair?

I would submit that the executives at NorthWestern Energy — like all the fossil fuel promoters, the oil-a-garchs — are terrified that the sleeping giant is starting to wake up. And I would submit the climate movement has already had enormous influence:

The proposal for the largest new coal mine in North America — on Montana’s Otter Creek . . . is dead. The Keystone XL pipeline . . . is dead. Five of the six proposals for coal export facilities on the West Coast to take Montana’s coal to China . . . are dead. (The sixth is on life support.) Expansion of the Shell Refinery at Anacortes that would have taken Bakken oil from hundreds “boom trains” running through Montana . . . just this week died. The people from 150 tribes digging in their heals at Standing Rock in North Dakota look likely to kill “the black snake,” the tar sands oil pipeline running close to their reservation.

I know it’s hard to get away on a Monday, to interrupt your life and your family’s life, to attend a rally in downtown Butte. But we need you. The people at Standing Rock shun the media’s characterization of them as “protesters.” They call themselves the earth’s “protectors.”

That’s something you can call yourself for being part of this movement.

Jeff Smith, Chair, 350 Missoula