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There are days along any journey that stick with you, and yesterday was one of them.

Under perfect blue skies, more than 12,000 people from every corner of the United States descended on Washington DC; then, with great precision, they fanned out to create a human chain that completely surrounded the White House three times around. I’ll never forget it. 

Here are just a couple of pictures from the day, and you can see lots more by clicking here.

Our message to Barack Obama was simple: stand up to big polluters, stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and honor your promises to help move the planet beyond fossil fuels. And around the world, people took action in solidarity with the protesters in DC. Some folks might see this as a Canadian or American fight — but it’s not. The Alberta Tar Sands marks the location of the second largest pool of carbon on the planet — this is a global fight.

People have been taking bold action on the tar sands around the world:

  • UK activists created a mini-White House (!) and surrounded it in solidarity.
  • Micronesian students issued a statement that the Keystone XL would “break them” by accelerating climate change, and overcome their beaches with brackish ocean water.
  • Egyptian activists visited their Canadian embassy, to make quite clear that committing to the Tar Sands would threaten to dry out their precious Nile. 
  • Pakistani Moving Planet organizers reminded us that laying down the Keystone XL pipeline, in essence, means unleashing more epic floods for their already washed-out nation.
  • Across Africa, organizers have been visiting Canadian consulates, and making their voices heard on the Keystone XL pipeline. 

We were also fortunate to have a 350 organizer from Fiji at the rally, Subhashni Raj. Subhashni has worked to build the movement among impacted communities across the Pacific islands. When she saw the massive crowd assembled, she said: “I’m so glad I made it — seeing this many people in America ready to take action on climate change is truly inspiring.”

What speaker after speaker at the final rally made clear (and they came from every part of our movement: indigenous leaders, labor organizers, environmentalists, young people, preachers) was that this was in no way a grand finale. There’s lots more work to do, not only to stop this pipeline, but to take on the looming threats to our planet in communities all over the world. In the coming weeks, we’ll be ramping up new campaigns to take on the globe’s biggest polluters and build on the incredible movements that are rising up around the world.

I have no idea how this particular battle is going to come out — only that, together, we stand a chance to shut down this dirty pipeline and shift the flow not just of oil, but of history. This day was an important part of that history, and we’ll carry its power with us as we take this fight forward.

From Moving Planet to Moving Obama, thanks as always for working shoulder-to-shoulder with people around the world, for the most epic changes of our time.


Bill McKibben for the 350.org team

P.S. This movement milestone deserves to be shared, so forward along this email — and share it on Facebook by clicking here or share it on Twitter by clicking here.

P.P.S. Our team loves to hear about the work you’re doing in your community to take on climate change: if you’re using Twitter, add #350ppm to the end of your tweets, or drop us an email at [email protected]

Photo Credits: Josh Lopez and Christine Irvine