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Updated: Greenpeace Climbers Arrested for Climate Change Protest at Mount Rushmore National Memorial


Greenpeace protesters unfurled a huge banner on Mount Rushmore to protest climate change and U.S. policy. Greenpeace photo.

Eleven Greenpeace members were arrested Wednesday for mounting a protest on the granite presidential faces of Mount Rushmore National Memorial to urge President Obama to "show real leadership on global warming."

Park staff were alerted by security systems at 10:11 a.m., local time that a number of individuals had breached a controlled area and accessed the top of the monument. While the climbers were able to unfurl a 65-foot-by-35-foot banner next to Abraham Lincoln's face, they were arrested shortly thereafter and taken to Rapid City, South Dakota, and jailed. Possible charges range from trespass to destruction of government property.

Park workers planned to assess the monument for any damage and were to remove the banner as soon as they could safely do so.

National Park Service officials would not say how the 11 managed to evade Mount Rushmore's security systems, reach the top of the monument, and rappel down its face, nor would they describe what security measures are employed at Mount Rushmore.

The banner draped across the front of the monument featured an unfinished portrait of President Obama with the message, "America honors leaders not politicians: Stop Global Warming."

The demonstration comes as President Obama met with other G8 leaders in L'Aquila, Italy, on Wednesday to discuss the global warming crisis in the lead-up to UN climate treaty negotiations in Copenhagen this December.

"This monument celebrates leaders who rose to the great challenges of our past. Global warming is the greatest crisis humankind has ever faced and it is the defining test of leadership for this generation. It's an open question whether President Obama will pass that test," said Greenpeace USA Deputy Campaigns Director Carroll Muffett.

According to a Greenpeace release the activists were trained in rock and industrial climbing and took special care not to damage the monument, using existing anchors placed by the National Park Service for periodic cleanings.

The demonstration followed a series of protests in Italy earlier Wednesday where other Greenpeace activists hung banners on coal plant smokestacks calling attention to the collective failure of leadership on global warming at the G8.

"We're at a moment in history where President Obama must show real leadership on global warming, not only for Congress and the American people, but for the world. Unfortunately, the steps taken to address the crisis so far have been grossly inadequate," said Muffett. "While President Obama's speeches on global warming have been inspiring, we've seen a growing gap between the president's words and his actions."

According to Greenpeace, "the best science shows that to avoid catastrophic global warming, governments must take action to keep global temperature rise as far below 2 degrees Celsius as possible.

"Given President Obama's pledge to follow the science, it's troubling that his administration has not yet endorsed emission targets strong enough to keep us below that critical threshold," the activist group said.

Furthermore, the group, said, the experience earlier this year "with climate legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives, which was drastically weakened by lobbyists for the oil and coal industries and other big polluters, showed that unless the president provides strong leadership on this issue, special interests will win out over the common interest."

"Doing what it takes to solve global warming demands real political courage," Muffett added. "If President Obama intends to earn a place among this country's true leaders, he needs to show that courage, and base his actions on the scientific reality rather than political convenience."

Greenpeace is calling on President Obama to use every tool at his disposal, both within and outside Congress, to strengthen U.S. climate policy with scientific integrity, and to take that policy to Copenhagen in December as evidence the U.S. will do what it takes to solve the climate crisis.

Specifically, Greenpeace is calling on President Obama to:

* Strive to keep global temperatures as far below a 2 degrees Celsius increase as possible, compared to pre-industrial levels to avert catastrophic climate change;

* Set a goal of peaking global emissions by 2015 and be as close to zero as possible by 2050, compared to 1990 levels;

* Cut emissions in the U.S. by 25-40 percent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels;

* Join and encourage other members of the G8 to establish a funding mechanism that provides $106 billion per year by 2020 to help developing countries adapt to global warming impacts that are now unavoidable and halt tropical deforestation.

Greenpeace is also calling on President Obama to attend the Copenhagen conference personally to ensure a strong, science-based agreement is reached.


As far as I am concerned, Greenpeace improved the looks of Rushmore. Our government defaced a beautiful mountain to make this monstrosity. To call this an NPS unit is terrible. The only consolation is that (I think) this is part of Mt. Harnish (sp?), an honor given to one of the key people in the killing and resettling of native Americans.
If Greenpeace had hung this banner from Halfdome or El Cap, I would be upset.
I have taken my family to a number of national parks, but do not ever plan to return to Rushmore. I respect the presidents "honored" there, but that has nothing to do with destroying a mountain to carve faces into it.

Geez, look what the coal firing plants are doing to China's environment. Gasping and choking populace that's on the verge of dying from all kinds of respiratory diseases. Look what the auto pollution is doing to the climate health of the Los Angeles Basin in California...the increase of respiratory diseases among young children and the elderly. Nothing to sneeze or cough at. I'm sure the gas and oil industry lobbyist (and executives) could careless about the environmental health of this nation...accept for the bottom line.

Coal is the future....plain and simple


Coal is attractive to politicians, utility companies and some consumers because it is a comparatively cheap fuel from domestic sources – and those qualities all make for good sound bites in our current situation.

Unfortunately, the industry's "clean coal" ad campaign is a classic oxymoron, at least as coal is currently being used. There are major costs in human and environmental health associated with the continuing (or expanded) use of coal; this is a classic case of "pay me now or pay me later."

Set aside the endless debate on whether global warming and climate change is real or imagined, and consider the other impacts of burning coal (and other fossil fuels) with existing technology: in addition to air quality issues, and those impacts on problems such as respiratory disease, there's the insidious but serious problem of heavy metals such as mercury released by burning coal. This is a problem that unfortunately receives little attention.

Can technology be developed to burn coal in a way that is not detrimental to our health? If so, coal has real potential. Efforts so far have been inconsistent and as best I can determine, ineffective – and the added cost required to make coal truly "clean" may make it a lot less attractive to those who are only interested in the short-term bottom line of the cost of producing energy.

Experience in the past 4 years in Texas confirmed to me that most utility companies (and many politicians and state regulatory agencies) have no interest in "clean" coal technology - they're only looking for a quick fix for cheap, domestic energy.

Coal is the future....plain and simple.

"As for the Earth warming, that remains to be seen. (The global temperature anomaly in January was 0.00 deg. C., the trough of the solar cycle.) There are some who are also critical of computer models that make very general predictions based on some flawed data sets. But go ahead and discredit those criticisms as being based from "CTT"s; nice ad hominem, attacking the source rather than the claim."

If climatologists really aren't in doubt about global climate change, let alone anthropogenic climate change, then the "claims" to the contrary being made should withstand the vetting process of peer review. They tend not to. While I don't worship at the altar of science, I think at least the scientific process is the best thing we've got going in terms of what's truly fueling climate change. However, there is no such checks and balances process in the open market, and anyone may print anything at any time that may sound good but ultimately be pernicious. All sorts of ideas may be promulgated, true and false. When it comes to climate change, I am no expert, and neither are most of us. It sounds simple enough to look at graphs and draw conclusions, but it seems to me that the earth is such a complex system that matters such as climate change tend not to be so simple to our (untrained) eyes as we might think. Thus, I am highly skeptical (how about that!) of people who are not trained climatologists telling me what's happening to the earth (or, more accurately, saying what's not happening to the earth). If this errs me on the side of "bowing down to the liberal elite academic experts," so be it: we all must bow to something here. At some point we must take a "leap of faith" to trust in some truth. For the skeptic, that leap is to the "I don't know" position, which simply requires distancing from the argument.

With some notable exceptions, most folks crying "foul" are lawyers and economists (and it is further sad to me that the division of pro/anti climate change seems to happen strongly along party lines). Lawyers and economists certainly have the freedom and right to do this (it's a free country), and they may or may not have good arguments (i.e., just because they are lawyers and economists doesn't mean they don't have good arguments). But while you're suggesting I'm simply diverting the issue by casting an ad hominem argument against CTTs and not addressing the issues themselves, I think it is a significant issue that an (largely) untrained, extremely well-funded movement has the clear goal of obfuscating the public so that any kind of legislation that helps the environment (and even smells anti-free market) gets slogged down by specious counter-claims that sound good but ultimately are quickly shaken off by those who study this stuff as their life's work. The environmental skeptic movement is far, far better at idea dissemination than are scientists. I disagree that I'm making an ad hominem argument here, but if I am, at least it seems extraordinarily relevant to me that there is a clear agenda on the part of CTTs and this is fueling much of the environmental skepticism movement and casting a very distinct light on the arguments they foment.

Greenpeace is nothing but a bunch of media hams masquerading as environmentalists. Any steps which help the environment have resulted from members of real environmental organizations doing the real work.

That sludge spill, incidentally, was nothing to sneeze at. It was 1.1 billions gallons of nasty, heavy-metal laced muck. That's 3 times the Marin County Spill of 2000, or 50 times bigger than Exxon Valdez...

Owen - here's the info on Al Gore's windfall:

As far as your arguments regarding nuclear power go, did you read anything from the website I provided? The arguments you're using are obsolete. Nuclear technology has come a long way since the 1970s.

Finally, the IPCC report is one analysis - what about the 31,000, and growing, number of scientists who say that global warming is bogus? How can you say the IPCC owns the truth? You're taking it on pure faith.

Going back to Roger Revelle, Al Gore's global warming mentor. Revelle has backed away from his findings, stating that the true impact of carbon dioxide was not at all certain.

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