When the Unimaginable Becomes Inevitable

The main event of the People’s Climate March took place on Sunday in New York City, but demonstrations were held around the world. Orion contributor Kathleen Dean Moore sent us this note from a gathering in Eugene, Oregon. Photograph courtesy of Mark Watchman.

This is a bad day for pipelines and export terminals and tankers and coal trains.

This is a bad day for the Koch brothers, and Rex Tillerson of Exxon Mobil, and anyone else who would trade the life-supporting systems of the Earth for obscene profits.

This is a bad day for universities, holding on to their last investments in fossil fuels, insisting on their right to profit from death and extinction—even as their own scientists warn them, warn them that fossil fuels will carry us, smoking and stinking, to the end of life as we know it on this planet.

This is the last day for despair. It is the last day to say it’s too late, that there is nothing anyone can do. It is a day to awaken to the fact that we are not helpless at all, that we have the knowledge and the courage and the joyous communities it will take to make the great turning away from death and toward a reinvented life.

This is the last day for lies and excuses and delay. It is the last term in office for elected officials who will not or cannot protect the future. It is the last day that anyone can be silent about climate change.

And so, this is a great day for the hoofed and winged things. It’s a great day for small children of all species, a great day for ice and oceans, a great day for reliable rain.

This is a great day for justice, and the right of all beings to clean air and clean energy.

This is a great day for sanity and imagination. Imagine a world without wars for oil. Imagine a world without the din and dirt of internal combustion engines. Imagine democracy without the corrupting wealth of coal barons. Imagine a world powered as plants are powered—by the sun.

Today is the day when everything changes. In every struggle for justice, there is a turning point, a tipping point, when what was unimaginable becomes inevitable. It is the day when the people pour into the street to reclaim their futures and the future of all the glorious lives on Earth.

Life is not a commodity, to be bought and sold, wrecked and ransacked, for the profit of a few sullen and frightened men. The profusion of life is a sacred trust, a great and glorious gift, to be honored and protected, and passed along, intact and singing, to the next generations of all living things.

Kathleen Dean Moore’s newest book is Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril, which makes the moral case for halting climate change and honoring our obligations to future generations. Her most recent piece for Orion, “The Rules of the River,” appears in the September/October 2014 issue.


  1. Couldn’t agree more that “This is the last day for lies and excuses and delay.”

    We know we’re running out of fossil fuels, that’s not in dispute, so why not quit and transition now, instead of 30 years from now when we’re forced to, in the meanwhile having cooked the planet? Makes no sense to me. Why risk it for 30 or so years of easy living and corporate profits, when our species could, hopefully, enjoy a long future on Earth?

  2. I applaud Sterling College in Vermont for leaving fossil fuels & carrying on quite beautifully.

  3. Land and the native species that occupy that land are not commodities either. The Rights of Nature would do well to adopt the vegan solution so that we can eliminate AUHM (animals under human management. AUHM is killing this Species’ Planet.

  4. I participated in that march in Eugene–my first march ever.

  5. I sense that a tipping point is in process. I feel very encouraged. People are finally saying what is within their hearts, without fear.

  6. What are the measurements of the pollution to water, to air, to earth? How much corn,and what is the quantity of wheat that does not feed those that are hungry. What are the statics on the loss of effectiveness of pharmaceuticls What am I talking about here? Factory Farming of course. But what should also be a profound concern but isn’t. It is the immeasurable suffering that we inflict on other sentient beings. Add to that that we do the same abuse to each other and to the environment. This is an all or nothing journey.

  7. We also need to look at our own consumption. My husband, Rob Badger, and I are conservation and wildflower photographers. It is amazing how much we can still enjoy life with very small carbon, water and resource footprints by embracing some simple lifestyle changes. I don’t feel deprived. I feel compelled to as a good citizen of this planet to make the changes. Reducing our footprint has become a habit and not an effort.

    We also need to make sure women everywhere can get a quality education and access to birth control and family planning.

  8. Thank you for your effort. It is not a surprise to see that what may be seen by many as a supporting response to this issue of intense abuse of animals is as always ” Anthropocentric.” That means seeing only from the eyes of the human and not at all a sincere, compassionate and true understanding as experienced by the non-human being. What we do to “Them” we do to ourselves.

  9. Thank you Kathleen Dean Moore for your clear and precise perspective. Couldn’t agree with you more!

  10. It’s well and good to speak of “ethical” actions re climate change and fossil fuels. But that hasn’t been working. We hear a lot about oil and coal companies’ greed–yes, there is greed there. Maybe we also ought to think about the idea that human beings as they evolved were semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers. The way they lived then was to settle in one area for a time, strip that area of everything they could eat or use and, when it was all gone, move on to another area and do the same thing. The thought is that maybe we still have this behavior as a very deep and stubborn part of our nature. How do we address that or get around it to deal with the trouble we are getting into now?

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