Bill McKibben on Keystone XL as “Selma and Stonewall”

Bill McKibben on how the fight for a safe climate is different from the fight for civil and gay rights:

It was bad enough [for US politicians] to take four decades simply to warm up to the idea of gay rights. Innumerable lives were blighted in those in-between years, and given long-lasting official unconcern about Aids, innumerable lives were lost. At least, however, inaction didn’t make the problem harder to solve: if the supreme court decides gay people should be able to marry, then they’ll be able to marry.

Unlike gay rights or similar issues of basic human justice and fairness, climate change comes with a time limit. Go past a certain point, and we may no longer be able to affect the outcome in ways that will prevent long-term global catastrophe. We’re clearly nearing that limit and so the essential cowardice of too many Democrats is becoming an ever more fundamental problem that needs to be faced. We lack the decades needed for their positions to “evolve” along with the polling numbers. What we need, desperately, is for them to pitch in and help lead the transition in public opinion and public policy.