Killer Tornadoes: How Devastating Extreme Weather Is Linked to Human-Caused Climate Change
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So, we need the President and the rest of his administration to focus a lot harder on climate change. It’s nice that they’ve talked about green jobs, and so on and so forth, but we need them to understand that global warming right now is the most difficult problem that we face, and we can’t do anything that will make it worse. The Congress, at the moment, is clearly preventing us from doing much that will make it better, but we’ve got to do everything we can to engage that battle. That’s what we’re doing at 350.org now, and with some increasing success, I’m happy to say. The movement itself, at least, is building. It’s not big enough yet to defeat the fossil fuel industry, but we’re getting larger.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Bill, you mentioned Congress, and yet this spring the House of Representatives voted by a 50-vote majority against a resolution that says climate change poses a significant risk to human health. Where are our political leaders?
BILL McKIBBEN: They were more—I mean, they voted by that 50 votes to basically say that climate change wasn’t real. I mean, we’re entering one of those moments. You know, it’s like Lysenko in the old Soviet Union or something, when there are too many people willing to believe that their ideology can trump physics and chemistry. That is a painful delusion to be laboring under. It’s one that we won’t labor under for very long, but these are crucial years, and we really, really have to engage this battle. By that, I mean since we’re never going to outspend the fossil fuel industry—and that’s what owns Congress—we’re going to have to figure out some other currency to work in. It’s not going to be money. It’s going to be bodies and creativity and spirit.
So, at 350.org, we’re in the midst of planning for this next huge global day of action. It’ll be September 24th, and it’ll be mostly on the backs of bicycles all over the world. We’re calling it "Moving Planet." We’re in the middle of this big fight against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is the number one front group for the fossil fuel industry. And we’re getting thousands upon thousands of small businesses across America to simply say, "The U.S. Chamber doesn’t speak for me," because they’re being—they’re the reason that Congress is being as willful and blind as they are. We’ve got to engage these big forces, and we’ve got to do it very dynamically, because the time, as this chain of freak weather events makes clear, is running out.
And it’s making it clear, by the way, not just to scientists and not just to activists. The head of one of the country’s biggest insurance companies was quoted just a week or so ago as saying, "Look, it’s very clear to us that the level of thunderstorm activity across the country is off the charts. We’re going to have to be raising our premiums, and there’s going to be lots of places where we’re not going to be able to underwrite anymore, simply because the earth is changing so fast."
AMY GOODMAN: And very quickly, 350.org, the significance of the name of your group?
BILL McKIBBEN: Three-fifty is the—good question, Amy. Three-fifty is the most important number in the world. The NASA scientists told us three years ago that any value for carbon in the atmosphere greater than 350 parts per million was not compatible with the planet on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted. That is strong language. It’s stronger still when you know that everywhere, outside your studios, up on top of Mount Everest, in the Antarctic, right now we’re at about 390 parts per million CO2 and gaining fast. That’s why this is not some future problem. It is the most pressing present crisis that we have.