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Bill McKibben: We Can't Wait for the Politicians, We Have to Create the Future that We Need Ourselves

"We will never have as much money as the oil companies, so we need a different currency to work in. We need bodies, we need creativity, we need spirit."

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We need to fight with art and with music too, not just the side of our brain that likes bar graphs and pie charts, but with all our heart and all our soul. Tomorrow you need to go down or tonight behind Hall B downstairs and help them build the artwork for Monday morning. We need to fight with unity. We need to have a coherent voice. That's why last week we joined with our friends with at 1Sky to build this bigger, stronger 350.org. We need to speak with one loud voice because we are fighting for, well, we're fighting for your future.

So far, we've raised the temperature of the planet one degree, and that's done all that I've described -- it's melted the Arctic, it's changed the oceans. The climatologists tell us that unless we act in great speed and courage that one degree will be five degrees before this century is out and if we do that then the world that we leave behind will be a ruined world. We fight not just for ourselves, we fight for the beauty of this place, for cool trout steams and deep spruce woods, for chilly fog rising off the Pacific and deep snow quieting the mountains. We fight for all the rest of creation that shares this planet with us -- a creation so right that we don't even know half the species on Earth that we are wiping out. And of course we fight alongside our brothers and sisters around the world.

You have seen the pictures as I've talked, these are our comrades. Most of these people you see come from places that have not caused this problem, and yet they are willing to be in deep solidarity with use. That's truly admirable and it puts a real moral burden on us. Never let anyone tell you that environmentalism is something that rich white people do. Most of the people that we work with around the world are poor and black and brown and Asian and young, because that's what most of the world is made up of and they care about the future as much as any one else.

We have to fight, finally, without any guarantee that we are going to win. We have waited late to get started and our adversaries are strong and we do not know how this is going to come out. If you were a betting person you might bet we were going to lose because so far that is what's happened, but that's not a bet you are allowed to make. The only thing that a morally awake person can do when the worst thing that ever happened is happening is try to change those odds.

I have spent most of my last few years in rooms around the world with brave people -- many of whom will be refugees before the century is out, some of them may be dead from climate change before the century is out -- no guarantee that we will win, but from them a complete guarantee that we will fight with everything we have. It is always an honor for me to be in those rooms. It is the greatest of honors for me to be with you tonight. No guarantee that we will win, but we will fight side by side as long as we've got. Thank you all so much.
 

Environmentalist and author Bill McKibben is the founder of 350.org, an international climate campaign.

 
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