Monday's frigid temperatures and snow did not keep thousands of protesters from targeting the Washington, D.C. power plant that burns coal helps power the capitol.
Their goal was to highlight how burning coal is the worst way to produce energy, if we care about stopping global warming, and to call on Congress to set limits on greenhouse gas emissions. (Burning coal is also a leading cause of smog, acid rain and the ecological and health effects caused by each; mining coal has also ruined streams and landscapes, particularly in Appalachia, where "mountaintop removal" ravages the region.)
Leading the demonstrations were James Hansen, the NASA climate scientist, as well as Robert Kennedy, Jr., Bill McKibben, Wendell Berry, Gustave Speth, Vandana Shiva, Kathy Mattea and actress Daryl Hannah.
Just last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called for the removal of coal from the plant's fuel mix -- leading protesters to declare a victory.
The larger battle over the nation's use of coal continues to rage -- not only in Congressional debates, but on the airwaves, as the coal industry's "clean coal" advertisements are being challenged with a smart, viral counter-attack.
The protest comes just days after International Polar Year scientists reported faster melting in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions. There's were as many as 30% more days of melting in parts of Greenland in 2008, compared to average, according to a NASA analysis. (The National Snow and Ice Data Center, meanwhile, recently corrected a flawed analysis, which slightly increased the rate of re-freezing observed in the Arctic this winter; the overall trend, however, is still depressingly familiar: melt, melt, melt.)
The people -- in the form of thousands of protesters -- are calling for more.
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