America Honors Leaders

Feature story - July 8, 2009
Climbers hung a banner on the face of Mount Rushmore to issue a challenge to President Obama: "America honors leaders, not politicians: Stop global warming." The action is part of a global day of action staged by Greenpeace to urge world leaders attending a G8 meeting in L'Aquila, Italy, to take the actions necessary to avert runaway climate change.

"We are at a key moment in history when we must challenge our president to take real leadership. The steps taken so far have been frankly inadequate. If President Obama wants to take his place among the great leaders of history, he must take aggressive measures to combat climate change and prioritize a strong deal in Copenhagen," said Carroll Muffet, Deputy Campaign Director for Greenpeace. "We're here at Mount Rushmore to inspire Americans to take action, and remind the world that heroism and leadership are part of our nation's history - and must be a part of our future."

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Global warming is an environmental crisis the likes of which we've never faced before. Given the powerful forces who are actively working to delay action, addressing it adequately will require bold leadership, not political dealing. This banner hang on Mount Rushmore was intended to press President Obama to be a leader in establishing science-based global warming policy not just here in the U.S., but also internationally at the UN climate change discussions to be held in Copenhagen this December.

The science is clear

Climate scientists have clearly stated that we need to reduce our emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020, and 80-95% by 2050. If we do less than that, we risk crossing a tipping point that will bring about the worst impacts of global warming - devastating floods, droughts, wildfires, and storms.

Unfortunately, the House of Representatives recently passed a climate bill, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), that sets targets far below those mandated by science - largely because the fossil fuels industries were allowed a huge amount of influence in revising the legislation. The bill is so weak that it may actually spur a new generation of dirty coal and dangerous nuclear plants.

The excuse we're given is that this legislation is all that is politically feasible. But the climate doesn't care about what's politically feasible. If we don't take action in line with the science, we face catastrophic climate change.

In President Obama's inaugural address, he vowed to "restore science to its rightful place." ACES, which will soon be voted on in the Senate, falls woefully short of that mark. Sign our petition now and call on President Obama to honor his commitment to restoring science by being a true leader, not a politician.

Experienced Greenpeace climbers use caution, respect national landmark

The climbers completed a challenging ascent up the back of Mount Rushmore, then rapelled down its face and hung the banner, which measures sixty-five feet high by thirty-five feet wide. Additonal activists peacefully blocked access to the site while the banner was being deployed.

Greenpeace climbers took special care not to damage the monument during the climb, using existing anchors set by the park service for periodic cleanings of the rock. The activists are highly trained in rock and industrial climbing, and the group also includes some activists who are trained EMTs and Wilderness First Responders, to insure the safety of all involved.

Greenpeace is calling on President Obama to use every tool at his disposal, both within and outside Congress, to strengthen U.S. climate policy with scientific integrity, and to take that policy to Copenhagen in December as evidence that the U.S. will do what it takes to solve the climate crisis.

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