More than 800,000 Americans Tell the Senate: Stop the Keystone XL
Over the last 24-hours, environmental and progressive groups flooded the Senate with more than 800,000 messages opposing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The surge in online activism came as Senate Republicans tried to saddle the transportation bill with an amendment that would reverse President Obama’s decision to block the controversial project.
The petition drive was organized by a group of more than 30 organizations and businesses with the goal of sending the Senate half a million messages in under 24 hours. The online drive quickly went viral, powered in part by blogs and online advertising, tweets from celebrities (including the founder of Twitter, Evan Williams), and a shout-out from Stephen Colbert, who interviewed 350.org founder Bill McKibben on Monday night.
The online push inspired offline action as well. In Kentucky, more than 2,000 people gathered at a rally opposing mountaintop removal mining picked up their cell phones and called Sen. McConnell to tell him to stop pushing Keystone XL. In New York City, dozens of people visited Sen. Schumer’s office and got him on the record opposing the pipeline. Petition deliveries also took place in Ohio, Maine, North Carolina, New Mexico and elsewhere.
Fifteen of the nation’s top climate scientists also added their names to the effort by sending a personal letter to the Senate, urging leadership to abandon the tar sands pipeline because of its impact on the environment and climate. “We can say categorically that this pipeline is not in the nation's, or the planet's best interest,” wrote the group, which included Dr. James Hansen of NASA, Dr. Michael Mann at Penn State, and Dr. Ralph Keeling at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Representatives from the coalition delivered the 800,000 messages directly to Senator Reid and Senator McConnell on Tuesday afternoon. Many of the groups involved in the effort are pledging to keep up the fight against Keystone XL as long as Republicans continue to try and bring measures designed to resurrect the project. Click here for photos of the petition delivery.
Leaders of the effort issued the following statements:
Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director: "The voice of three quarters of a million Americans is a force that the Senate will ignore only at great peril. Big Oil is spending millions on political influence to force approval of this dangerous and unnecessary pipeline. But Congress shouldn’t be in the business of permitting oil industry projects, and they shouldn’t be promoting oil profits above the health and safety of Americans.”
Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Natural Resources Defense Council International Program Director: "It's time for lawmakers to start heeding people across the country who are saying no to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and other dirty energy projects. Americans know that we can do better for our climate, water and farmlands than expansion of destructive and expensive Canadian tar sands.”
Gene Karpinski, League of Conservation Voters President: "In only 24 hours, hundreds of thousands of people stood up to Big Oil and demanded that the Senate do the same by opposing all efforts to approve the harmful Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that the Obama administration wisely rejected. Americans across the country refuse to let Big Oil’s congressional allies threaten our country with this toxic tar sands pipeline, and whether it’s 24 hours, days or months LCV will continue working with them to block efforts to resurrect it.”
Michael Kieschnick, CREDO President: “The Senate should consider this one day of action as a warning. The American people are watching very closely whether the Senate represents Big Oil or the public health. If the Keystone XL pipeline is forced through, we will do much, much more until it is permanently blocked.”
Jane Kleeb, BOLD Nebraska Executive Director: "Congressional Republicans might make sweetheart deals with Big Oil, but the grassroots hearts and souls are focused on keeping this pipeline from risking Americans water supply, our climate, and our clean energy future."
Bill McKibben, 350.org Founder: "The last 24 hours were the most concentrated blitz of environmental organizing since the start of the digital age. Over 800,000 Americans made it clear that Keystone XL is the environmental litmus test for Senators and every other politician in the country. It's the one issue where people have come out in large numbers to put their bodies on the line, and online too: the largest civil disobedience action on any issue in 30 years, and now the most concentrated burst of environmental advocacy perhaps since the battles over flooding the Grand Canyon back in the glory days.”
Participating groups included: 350.org, Alliance for Climate Education, Avaaz, BOLD Nebraska, Brighter Planet, Center for Biological Diversity, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Climate Reality Project, Climate Solutions, CREDO, Democracy for America, Environmental Action, Energy Action Coalition, Environmental Defense, Frack Action/Water Defense, Friends of the Earth, FUSE, Global Exchange, Green America, Green for All, Indigenous Environmental Network, League of Conservation Voters, Labor Network for Sustainability, MoveOn.org Political Action, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oil Change International, Other 98%, Public Citizen, Patagonia, The North Face, Rainforest Action Network, Rebuild the Dream, Sierra Club, Solar Mosaic, Sojourners, Sungevity, Tar Sands Campaign, U.S. Climate Action Network and Vote Solar
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Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.
How to Rock Your Walk<p>Walking isn't just fun and healthy. It's accessible.</p><p>"Walking is cheap," says Dr. John Paul H. Rue, a sports medicine doctor at <a href="https://mdmercy.com/" target="_blank">Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore</a>. "You can do it anywhere at any time; [it] requires little to no special equipment and has many of the same cardio benefits as running or other more intense workouts."</p><p>Want to up your walking game? Try the tips below.</p>
Use Hand Weights<p>Cardio and strength training can go hand-in-hand when you add weights to your walk.</p><p>A <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2019/03000/Associations_of_Resistance_Exercise_with.14.aspx" target="_blank">2019 study</a> found that weight training is good for your heart, and <a href="https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(17)30167-2/abstract" target="_blank">research</a> shows it reduces the risk of developing a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/nutrition-metabolism-disorders" target="_blank">metabolic disorder</a> by 17 percent. People with metabolic disorders have a higher chance of being diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.</p><p>Rue suggests not carrying weights for your entire walk.</p><p>"Hand weights can give you an added level of energy burning, but you have to be careful with these because carrying [them] over a long period of time or while walking could actually lead to some overuse injuries," he says.</p>
Make It a Circuit<p>As another option, consider doing a circuit. First, put a pair of dumbbells on your lawn or somewhere in your home. Walk around the block once, then stop and do some bicep curls and tricep lifts before walking around the block again.</p><p>Rue recommends <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/running-with-weights" target="_blank">avoiding ankle weights</a> during cardio workouts, as they force you to use your quadriceps rather than hamstrings. They can also cause muscle imbalance, according to the <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/wearable-weights-how-they-can-help-or-hurt" target="_blank">Harvard Health Letter</a>.</p>
Find a Fitness Trail<p>Strength training isn't limited to weights. You can get stronger by <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/bodyweight-workout" target="_blank">simply using your body</a>.</p><p>Often found at parks, fitness trails are obstacle courses with equipment for pullups, pushups, rowing, and stretches to build upper and lower body strength.</p><p>Try searching "fitness trails near me" online, checking out your local parks and recreation website, or calling the municipal office to <a href="https://calisthenics-parks.com/" target="_blank">find one</a>.</p>
Recruit a Friend<p>People who workout together stay healthy together.</p><p><a href="https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-017-0584-3" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that older adults who exercised with a group improved or maintained their functional health and enjoyed their lives more.</p><p>Enlist the help of a walking buddy with a regimen you aspire to have. If you don't know anyone in your area, apps like <a href="https://www.strava.com/" target="_blank">Strava</a> have social networking features so you can get support from fellow exercisers.</p>
Try Meditation<p>According to the <a href="https://www.nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/nhis/2017" target="_blank">2017 National Health Interview Survey</a>, published by the National Institutes of Health, meditation is on the rise, and for good reason.</p><p>Researchers <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29616846/" target="_blank">found</a> that mind-body relaxation practices can regulate inflammation, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/biological-rhythms" target="_blank">circadian rhythms</a>, and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/glucose" target="_blank">glucose</a> metabolism, as well as lower <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-hypertension" target="_blank">blood pressure</a>.</p><p>"Any form of exercise can be turned into a meditation of some type, either by the surroundings you are walking in, like a park or trail, or by blocking out the outside world with music on your headphones," Rue says.</p><p>You can also play a podcast or download an app like <a href="https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app" target="_blank">Headspace</a> that has a library of guided meditations to practice while you walk.</p>
Do Fartlek Walks<p>Typically used in running, fartlek intervals alternate periods of increased and decreased speed. These are <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-hiit" target="_blank">high-intensity interval training (HIIT)</a> workouts, which allow exercisers to accomplish more in less time.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0154075" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that 10-minute interval training improved <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/metabolic-syndrome" target="_blank">cardiometabolic</a> health, or lowered the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, just as well as working out at a continuous pace for 50 minutes.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111489" target="_blank">Research</a> also shows that HIIT workouts increase muscle <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fast-twitch-muscles" target="_blank">oxidative</a> capacity, or the ability to use oxygen. To do a fartlek walk, try walking at an increased pace for 3 minutes, slow down for 2 minutes, and repeat.</p>
Gradually Increase Pace<p>A faster walking pace is associated with a lower risk of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/copd" target="_blank">chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)</a> and respiratory diseases, according to a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30303933/" target="_blank">2019 study</a>.</p><p>Still, it's best not to go from a stroll to an Olympic-worthy power walk in a day. Instead, increase your pace gradually to prevent injury.</p><p>"Start by walking at a brisk pace for about 10 minutes per day, 3 to 5 days per week," Rue says. "Once you've done this for a few weeks, increase your time by 5 to 10 minutes per day until you get to 30 minutes."</p>
Add Stairs<p>You've likely heard that taking the stairs instead of an elevator is a way to add more movement into your daily routine. It's also a way to step up your walking. Stair climbing has been shown to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335519301123?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">decrease the risk of mortality</a> and can easily add a bit more challenge to your walk.</p><p>If you don't have stairs in your home, you can often find them outside a local municipal building, train station, or at a high school stadium.</p>
Is Your Walk a True Cardio Workout?<p>Not all walks are equal. A walk that's too leisurely may not provide enough burn to qualify as cardio. To see if you're getting a good workout, try to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-check-heart-rate" target="_blank">measure your heart rate</a> using a monitor.</p><p>"A target goal for a good walking workout heart rate is about 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate," Rue says, adding that maximum heart rate is <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/fat-burning-heart-rate" target="_blank">typically calculated</a> by 220 beats per minute minus your age.</p><p>You can also monitor how easily you can carry on a conversation while you walk to gauge your heart rate.</p><p>"If you can walk and carry on a normal conversation, that's probably a lower intensity walk," says Rue. "If you are slightly breathless but can still have a conversation, that's probably a moderate workout. If you are out of breath and can't talk normally, that's a vigorous workout."</p>
Takeaway<p>By shaking up your routine, you can add excitement to your workout and reap even more rewards than a basic walk provides. Increasing the pace and intensity of a workout will make it more effective.</p><p>Simply pick your favorite variation to add some spice to your next walk.</p>
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