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Tim DeChristopher Says We're in Trouble

Tim DeChristopher Says We're in Trouble

Author: Reilly Capps/Friday, May 24, 2013/Categories: environment

[Tim DeChristopher in 2011. Photo by Jonathan Mauer.]

By Reilly Capps

If there are rockstars of environmentalism -- isn't that a contradiction in terms? -- Tim DeChristopher is one of them. 

DeChristopher made one of his first appearances since getting out of prison in the spring here in Telluride, Colorado, and received a standing ovation from a packed house in a resort town called Mountain Village. 

For a guy who has been in prison for two years, DeChristopher looked healthy, happy and well-rested. 

He was, of course, imprisoned for one of the most effective bits of monkeywrenching in the history of America. In late 2008, the Bush Administration was auctioning off, in Salt Lake City, the rights to drill for oil and gas. Protesters said -- and officials later agreed -- that there wasn't proper review and oversight. DeChristopher waltzed into the auction, was taken for an oilman, and bought $1.8 million worth of leases. The catch, of course, is that he was a modest economics student with no intention of paying for them. The chaos helped convince the incoming Obama administration to throw out 77 of the leases. 

Still, DeChristopher was sent to prison. When filmmakers George and Beth Gage read an article I wrote about DeChristopher, they set about making a film about him, which is now getting attention. 

If DeChristopher is a rockstar, he's often punk rock, he's death metal. His tune gets dark. 

Ever the doomsayer / realist, DeChristopher prophesied that it's already too late to stop climate change, that it's already too late to prevent terrible consequences, destruction. Some scientists don't talk like this. They avoid being blunt because they believe that people will be terrified into paralysis. 

But he pointed out that that wasn't true in his case. As he's told me before, it was a sense that he had nothing to lose that prompted him to take such a bold step. Hopelessness drove him; in the process, he's provided hope to thousands. He's one of the best examples of the benefits and costs of taking extreme action. Although, you know, he would say that his action wasn't extreme -- it was perfectly in line with the extreme nature of the threat. 

"The more we can get people to live in accordance with those values, the brighter our future looks," DeChristopher said. 

I'll follow up with DeChristopher later in the weekend. 


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