Fantastic news today for all climate activists around the world: Ted Glick, Climate Justice Faster and policy director of the US NGO Chesapeake Climate Action Now was spared the ordeal of a jail sentence for peacefully unfurling banners reading “GREEN JOBS NOW” and “GET TO WORK” inside the U.S. Senate Hart Office Building last September. Hundreds of fellow activists and climate concerned citizens from all over the world wrote letters in support of Ted to his judge and packed out his courtroom in solidarity, and it seems to have some effect. What was looking almost certainly like at least a few months, and quite possibly years, of jail time became simply a good behavior bond and community service, as Ted walked free from the court amongst friends and supporters.
To anyone who helped this cause by writing a letter in support of Ted, thank you! Here is the poignant and powerful statement Ted read out in court:
Ted Glick’s Sentencing Statement, July 6, 2010
Your honor, I’d like to focus my statement on the “why” of the September 8th action, about which I was not able to testify at my trial. I’ll begin with a quote from a March 4th, 2010 press release from the U.S. National Science Foundation. It concerns the emission of methane, a greenhouse gas 70 times as strong as carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it is released into the atmosphere. This release begins:
“A section of the Arctic Ocean seafloor that holds vast stores of frozen methane is showing signs of instability and widespread venting of the powerful greenhouse gas, according to the findings of an international research team. . .
“The research results show that the permafrost under the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, long thought to be an impermeable barrier sealing in methane, is perforated and is starting to leak large amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming.”
This melting of frozen methane on the sea floor is one of several climate tipping points that scientists have long identified as of great concern. The others are: the release of methane frozen in the permafrost in the earth’s northern latitudes, the accelerated melting of the Greenland and West Antarctica ice sheets such that sea level rise would be much more rapid than currently expected, and the drying out of the Amazon rainforest because of drought and the release of much of the estimated 120 billion tons of carbon sequestered there.
What is a climate tipping point? It’s a point at which there has been so much heating up of the atmosphere that we experience drastic and runaway heating with truly catastrophic implications for the whole world, especially for the poor people of the world who are most vulnerable to respiratory diseases, heat stress, droughts, floods, major storms, water scarcity and disruption of agriculture.
We may well be on the verge of one of these tipping points. I hope we haven’t passed one already.
We are literally running out of time to make the dramatic changes, to shift rapidly from fossil fuels to clean energy, that will give us a chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.
I hope that in the thinking you have been doing about my sentence, this dire situation in which we find ourselves has been taken into account. Faced with such a planetary emergency, we must speak up and take action. And as citizens of a democracy, we must nonviolently urge, in the best ways we know how, our elected representatives, our Congresspersons and Senators, to do the right thing. That is what I did on September 8thof last year.
As the country responsible for the highest percentage of greenhouse gases that are up in the atmosphere, the United States must begin to give leadership on this issue. We haven’t done so yet. And time is running out.
Time is running out. All of us, in our own ways and for the sake of those being affected by climate change right now, for our children and grandchildren, must speak out and take action now.
And here is a quick video that shows Ted’s action. He’s the one at the end unfurling the long green banner. Hardly deserving of time in jail!