Engaging in civil disobedience

by Kate Smolski

October 1, 2007

I am back in the office after a long day last Thursday. I have been working on environmental issues full-time for over 7 years now and yesterday was the first time I crossed a police line and got arrested.

I felt completely confident I was doing the right thing by engaging in civil disobedience to demand that our governmental take real action, not false steps to curb global warming. Global warming is the real challenge of my generation and the generations to come.

If we do not take bold and swift action now I fear to think about the future world we will live in. Last Thursday, myself and 48 other activists protested Bush and his charade of a meeting on global warming. Bush is trying to take the world in the wrong direction by working outside and not engaging in the international Kyoto Treaty process, and his meeting is nothing more than a propaganda effort to deflect international criticism.

I was there on Thursday to do my part to show that Bush does not stand for the vast majority of Americans on this important issue. If Bush was serious about moving the country forward on global warming he would sign the Kyoto Protocol, period.

A friend of mine mentioned the other night that when people engage in civil disobedience an issue has reached a tipping point, he pointed to woman rights and the civil rights movement as examples. I think that this statement rings true to an extent.

Last Thursday, I shared a cell with two women, one of them was a grandmother and the other worked at a University of Maryland, like me they had ever been arrested before. They were not the stereotype of the ‘lefty environmental extremist’. Across the country people from all walks of life are taking serious and bold action to preserve the future of our planet by demanding action on global warming.

Some might think a few people getting arrested is not going to do anything. While it may be true that our protest was a completely symbolic act I believe it is important to show the Bush does NOT speak for many Americans with his criminal stance on global warming.

I have always been inspired by the bold and brave acts of people in our history like Alice Paul and John Lewis. I hope that the movement to fight global warming continues to gain momentum like other social movements. It must, we have no other option but to force action. Our survival depends on it.


–Kate Smolski


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