Last Tuesday, JSF activists and the Raging Grannies hooked up for an action down in Palo Alto, CA. Here is a direct account by one our very own supporters who was locked down.
On Tuesday, March 21, I blockaded the entrance to a Ford dealership in Palo Alto, California, chained to four other activists from the Jumpstart Ford coalition. As I sat on the cold concrete with a U-lock around my neck, I considered what had compelled me to take such a step. Reading the headlines in Wednesday’s Chronicle helped drive the point home for me: “Bush says war could outlast his presidency.” We have become embroiled in a war with no exit strategy because of our continued dependency on oil.
It occurs to me that taking a stand by engaging in a peaceful but meaningful act of civil disobedience is the most effective way I can counter the current global crisis. George W. Bush has failed to take any significant steps to remedy this problem and is instead leading us down a deadly and dangerous path.
If I have to risk jail to demonstrate the dire need for real change, so be it.
Ford Motor Company has the worst greenhouse gas emissions and lowest fuel efficiency standards of any major automaker. Ford’s inaction on the innovation front is devastating for the environment and is deadly for thousands of American troops and Iraqis.
The auto industry is in a unique position to lead our country out of this mess. Dealerships need to send a message to their suppliers pressing for what consumers really want: fuel-efficient, clean-running vehicles.
If they don’t, they can expect more protests and consumer activism.
Most folks seem to think that this type of action is too strong and at the same time not worthwhile. But its precisely this type of energy and willingness that changes the way governments, corporations and other power structures act. JSF is working to inject some real social responsibility into the auto industry. I am glad some companies are sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to local shelter programs, education initiatives and environmental efforts. But does it really matter when you compare how much money these companies are making off destroying the environment?
Massey Energy made over $2.2 billion dollars last year. They specialize in mountain-top removal in search of dirty coal (which we’ve been burning since the Middle Ages — you’d think we’re more technological than that by now but I guess not). Weyerhaueser, Seattle’s own paper and lumber company, harvested over 10.2 million cubic meters of timber from the Boreal forest last year (thats equal to 10.2 million telephone polls). Their revenue topped $22.6 billion. Ford Motor Company took home over $177 billion dollars and how much air pollution are they responsible for, after being rated the worst fuel efficiency of the world’s top 5 automakers by the EPA?
Are we putting back what we take out? If we’re not, the system will run until it becomes unbalanced at which point we better have a contingency plan. What we should be demanding of these corporations (like Ford and Massey) is that they put back more than what they take out of our common land and work to find sustainable alternatives to felling trees en masse and blowing apart mountain tops. The best way to do that is through sustainable means. What happened to American ingenuity? These companies have a choice: stay with business as usual or get wrecked in the coming market that demands sustainable alternatives. If they’re as business savvy as they say, they might want to start changing their strategies.
The JSF demonstration was a great moment of citizens coming together to show a business that change is needed. Kudos to Aaron for putting himself on the line for something he believes in. I only hope other Americans are willing to do the same when it comes to challenging corporate ethics.