A cold and wet Saturday greeted climate change protesters at the X's in downtown Missoula. 

Carrying signs that read "Governor Bullock - Protect Our State Lands From Arch Coal", and "No Coal Exports in the Big Sky", protesters listened to speakers such as Nobel Laureate, University of Montana Professor Dr. Steve Running, who made no bones about the reason for the gathering.

"I've seen for a few years studying the global carbon cycle that the single thing humanity has to do is quit burning coal," Running said. "It's the biggest carbon emission source of everything, and that's where we have to start. So, I've got to try to let the public know that not only is that the highest priority, but the rationale as to why we've come to that conclusion."

Standing just a few yards from railroad tracks that see several fully-loaded coal trains roll through Missoula for shipment to west coast ports, Running specified the conclusions that he and fellow climate-change believing scientists have reached.

"We look at the data from all the different sources, from car traffic, to airplanes, to manufacturing, and all the different sources of carbon emissions, and burning coal for electric power is the biggest one on earth, period," Running said.

When asked about whether China, India and other developing nations who are rapidly building as many coal-fired electricity plants as possible, might buy into the idea of ending their use of coal, Running said America must lead the way.

"First, they're all looking at us for leadership, because we started all this," Running said. "But, I'll also add this. In the latest five-year national plan for China, they announced publicly their intent to quit importing coal as a first step to getting off coal themselves. So, between their own air pollution crisis, and the global warming issue, China knows that's the direction they eventually have to go."

In addition to a small, but vocal group of supporters, a mascot dressed as a lump of coal danced among the crowd. Also in attendance were two representatives from Montana Rail Link, the company that ships coal through Montana. They declined to speak to the press, stating they were just there to observe.

University of Montana Professor Dr. Steve Running