When I wrote my essay on the virtues of being unreasonable on Keystone XL, I implied, unfairly, that TIME journalist Mike Grunwald was among the ranks of Very Serious People who think anti-Keystone activism is misguided. He protested, and I promised that if he wrote on the subject I would do a special post on it.

Well, Grunwald has written a column about Keystone XL and it is a doozy, just about the best thing I’ve ever read on the subject in a mainstream publication. Unlike the Monday morning (or rather, Sunday afternoon!) quarterbacks who have been swarming, stroking their chins and asking whether this is the right time, the right target, the right tone, the right everything to satisfy their fussy standards, Grunwald recognizes that the fight is already joined. What’s left now is only to win or lose.

The pipeline isn’t the worst threat to the climate, but it’s a threat. Keystone isn’t the best fight to have over fossil fuels, but it’s the fight we’re having. Now is the time to choose sides. It’s always easy to quibble with the politics of radical protest: Did ACT UP need to be so obnoxious? Didn’t the tax evasion optics of the Boston Tea Party muddle the anti-imperial message? But if we’re in a war to stop global warming — a war TIME declared on a green-bordered cover five years ago — then we need to fight it on the beaches, the landing zones and the carbon-spewing tar sands of Alberta. If we’re serious about reducing atmospheric carbon below 350 parts per million, we need to start leaving some carbon in the ground.


Oh, wait, this is good too:

What we really need is a political price on carbon, a policy presumption that cleaner is better. Fossil fuel interests understandably reject that notion. But so do respectable pundits, because they’re desperate to differentiate themselves from the unkempt riffraff who never shut up about the broiling of the planet. Respectable pundits see themselves as rational analysts, not emotional activists. They recognize the emergency but feel uncomfortable about the sirens. They endorse the war, but like armchair McClellans, they are always finding excuses for why we shouldn’t fight.

Yes, yes, yes.