by George Bao
Thousands of people joined hands at the weekend across beaches from Florida to California to form a human chain to protest offshore oil drilling and promote clean energy.
This is the second annual “Hands Across the Sand” event held in the U.S., but organizers claimed that it is now the global event with participants in 42 countries.
Dave Rauschkolb, founder of the event, told Xinhua that the event started in Florida on Feb. 13, 2010, when over 10,000 people gathered over 90 beaches to protest the efforts by the Florida Legislature and the U.S. Congress to lift the ban on oil drilling in the near and off shores of Florida.
He said the event took place two months before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster took place in the Gulf of Mexico.
He said since then “Hands Across the Sand” went national and global. It became the largest gathering of people in the history of the world united against expanding offshore oil drilling and championing clean energy and renewables.
He said since then over 1,000 events have been held worldwide.
According to Rauschkolb, “Hands Across the Sand” is a movement made of people of all walks of life and crosses political affiliations and the borders of the world.
“This movement is not about politics — it is about the protection of our coastal economies, oceans, marine wildlife and fisheries. The accidents that continue to happen in offshore oil drilling are a threat to all of the above. Expanding offshore oil drilling is not the answer; embracing Clean Energy is,” said Rauschkolb.
Asked what he is trying to accomplish, Rauschkolb said that on a local, national and global level, “Hands Across the Sand” sends a powerful visual message of human solidarity to the leaders of the country that “we are unified in the defense of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we consume from dangerous, dirty energy sources. Every time we join hands that message is reinforced. It’s simple and logical: embrace clean energy. A line in the sand is a powerful thing,” he stressed.
In southern California, hundreds of people gathered at Locations include Bluff Park and Granada Launch in Long Beach, Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey, Topanga State Beach in Malibu, Redondo Beach, the Santa Monica Pier and Venice Pier.
Participants joined hands along the shoreline for 15 minutes to signal solidarity. There were speakers, a beach clean-up and entertainment. Some carried signs that read: “Drillers are Killers, keep our beach out of reach” and “Boycott BP, make big oil pay.”
“Hands Across the Sand” was founded by Rauschkolb in October 2009 and is endorsed by national environmental organizations including Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Surfrider Foundation, Friends of the Earth, CleanEnergy.org and many others. These groups continue to fight those in the U.S. Congress and legislatures at state level who wish to lift the ban on oil drilling in the waters offshore.
Ericka Canales, regional manager of the Surfrider Foundation, told Xinhua that protesters across the country gathered on Saturday to oppose any new offshore drilling, but they do not oppose those offshore drillings that have already been operational.
She said it is time to steer away from the dirty energy and the dependence on the dirty energy. It is important to support clean energy such as solar and wind power.
In Florida, about 5,000 people joined the protest. State Representative Jeff Clemens, who also sits on the House Energy and Utility Committee, joined the event on Saturday.
“It’s not just a green issue, it’s an economic issue,” Clemens said.
“We’re talking about bringing jobs to Florida. Clean energy is really our next great economy in the world and the United States. We’re being beat by China. We’re being beat by Germany. We need to pick up the ball and run with it and we do that by not relying on oil resources for our energy needs,” Clements said.
According to Rauschkolb, “Hands Across the Sand” is aimed at organizing a Global movement to promote a clean energy future for the earth and end dependence on dirty fuel sources.
He said these gatherings will bring thousands of American and global citizens to the beaches and cities and will draw metaphorical and actual lines in the sand; human lines in the sand against the threats Fossil Fuels and offshore oil drilling pose to the present and future planet.
Also, they will convince state legislators, governors, the U.S. Congress, U.S. President Barack Obama and world leaders to adopt policies encouraging the growth of clean and renewable energy sources in place of oil and coal.