Environmental activists are staging a series of highly publicized protests in Washington, D.C. – including one Monday that shut down major intersections in the city, leading to 32 arrests.
With more protests scheduled for the coming days, it’s worth considering the following:
Pipelines: Near Union Station, protestors blocked an intersection with a fake pipeline with “STOP PIPELINES” written on it. As we have noted previously, pipelines are the safest, most efficient and most environmentally conscious method of delivering energy that American consumers rely on.
Opposing pipelines will do nothing to limit the demand for or our use of traditional fuels; it will only increase our reliance on less safe – and less environmentally friendly – transport methods, such as truck and rail.
Idle cars: Protesters also chose to cause major traffic jams in a major metropolitan area, causing thousands of cars to sit idling during rush hour. Idling cars are not good for the environment, according to the U.S. Department of Energy:
Idling your vehicle—running your engine when you’re not driving it—truly gets you nowhere. Idling reduces your vehicle’s fuel economy, costs you money, and creates pollution. Idling for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel and produces more emissions that contribute to smog and climate change than stopping and restarting your engine does. Researchers estimate that idling from heavy-duty and light-duty vehicles combined wastes about 6 billion gallons of fuel annually.
Misplaced discomfort: Here are a couple of quotes from protesters about what they were hoping to accomplish by shutting down parts of the city:
“Monday’s #ShutDownDC mobilization was a huge step forward, but we still have a long way to go to create the level of disruption that we’ll need to force the politicians and rich power brokers to abandon their program of delay and inaction so we can move forward with a bold program to address the climate crisis.”
“Parents, workers, college students, and everyone who is concerned about the climate crisis will skip work and school and put off their other responsibilities to take action on the climate crisis.”
If protesters are trying to cause disruption and discomfort to people who can truly bring about change, they are missing the mark. The well off in DC can work from home or take a day off from work to avoid or join the protests. Hourly workers and those just starting their careers do not have that luxury – and were the ones who were truly inconvenienced and harmed by the protests.
It would seem that causing people who badly need the work to miss or be late for work is not the most effective way to win over hearts and minds.