Bill McKibben

Moyers and McKibben: Time Is Running Out for Humanity to Make the Big Shift

BillMoyer.com editor's note: I wasn’t one of the 50,766 participants who finished the New York City Marathon last weekend. Instead, I spent the average marathon finish time of 4:39:07 to read a book — obviously a small book. In the interest of disclosure, I didn’t even start the race, but that’s another and even shorter story than Radio Free Vermont, the book from which I did occasionally look up and out the window to check on the stream of marathoners passing our apartment, their faces worn and haggard. A shame, I thought, that I couldn’t go outside and hand each one a copy of the book that had kept me smiling throughout the day while also restoring my soul; I was sure the resilience would quickly have returned to weary feet and sore muscles now draped in aluminum foil for healing’s sake. I admire those athletes, but wouldn’t have traded their run for my read, because Radio Free Vermont is funny, very funny, all the more so considering the author is one of the more serious men on the planet — the planet he has spent his adult life trying to save. Bill McKibben’s calling has been a footrace of its own, not to report to Athenians the victory of Greek warriors over the Spartans, but to wake up Americans to the once creeping, now billowing threat of global warming. For 30 years now climate change has been his beat — first as a journalist, then as an environmentalist and now as the leading activist in mobilizing a worldwide movement to win a race against time. In Radio Free Vermont, his latest book, he turns to humor for inspiration as runners go to bottled water for sustenance, and has us laughing all the way to the finish line. Also in the interest of disclosure, you should know Bill McKibben and I are old friends who sometimes conspire in plotting resistance to — well, read on. 

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Climate Justice Is Racial Justice Is Gender Justice

There’s nothing like the giant oil companies to provide us all with lessons about power and prejudice.

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Stop Swooning Over Canada's Justin Trudeau - The Man Is a Disaster for the Planet

Donald Trump is so spectacularly horrible that it’s hard to look away (especially now that he’s discovered bombs). But precisely because everyone’s staring gape-mouthed in his direction, other world leaders are able to get away with almost anything. Don’t believe me? Look one nation north, at Justin Trudeau.

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How to Save the Planet From Donald Trump

We’re going to be dealing with an onslaught of daily emergencies during the Trump years. Already it’s begun — if there’s nothing going on (or in some cases when there is), our leader often begins the day with a tweet to stir the pot, and suddenly we’re debating whether burning the flag should lose you your citizenship.

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Bill McKibben Responds to Right-Wing Group’s Plans to Target Climate Activists With Trackers and Video Cameras

On Friday, anti-environmentalist front group America Rising Squared announced plans to target climate activists with trackers and video cameras. In response, 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben issued the following statement:

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Global Warming's Terrifying New Chemistry

Global warming is, in the end, not about the noisy political battles here on the planet’s surface. It actually happens in constant, silent interactions in the atmosphere, where the molecular structure of certain gases traps heat that would otherwise radiate back out to space. If you get the chemistry wrong, it doesn’t matter how many landmark climate agreements you sign or how many speeches you give. And it appears the United States may have gotten the chemistry wrong. Really wrong.

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Exxon is Flooding the World with Fossil Fuels that Could Destroy Life As We Know It

Here’s the story so far. We have the chief legal representatives of the eighth and 16th largest economies on Earth (California and New York) probing the biggest fossil fuel company on Earth (ExxonMobil), while both Democratic presidential candidates are demanding that the federal Department of Justice join the investigation of what may prove to be one of the biggest corporate scandals in American history.  And that’s just the beginning.  As bad as Exxon has been in the past, what it’s doing now -- entirely legally -- is helping push the planet over the edge and into the biggest crisis in the entire span of the human story.

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Night of the Living Dead, Climate Change-Style: How to Stop the Fossil Fuel Industry From Wrecking Our World

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Beyond Keystone: Why Climate Movement Must Keep Heat On

The key passage — the forward-looking passage — of President Obama’s speech last week rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline came right at the end, after he rehashed all the arguments about jobs and gas prices that had been litigated endlessly over the last few years.

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'Unparalleled Evil': Exxon Has Done More Destroy Planet Earth Than Any Other Corporation

I’m well aware that with Paris looming it’s time to be hopeful and I’m willing to try. Even amid the record heat and flooding of the present, there are good signs for the future in the rising climate movement and the falling cost of solar.

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The Next Decade Will Decide What the World Looks Like for Thousands of Decades to Come

The next 10 years will be decisive when it comes to the planet's future -- what we do (or don't) will play out over geologic time.

It could, if we set our minds to it, be the decade when the planet's use of fossil fuels peaks and then rapidly declines. We've built a movement that, for the moment, is starting to tie down the fossil fuel industry: from the tarsands of Alberta to the (as yet unbuilt) giant new mines of Australia's Galilee Basin, the big players in coal, gas, and oil are bothered and even bewildered by a new strain of activist. They're losing on the image front: when the Rockefeller family, the Church of England, and Prince Charles have begun divesting their fossil fuel stocks, you know the tide has turned.

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How a Lawyer from the Jim Crow South Shaped the Fight Against Climate Change

There is a reason that the autobiographies of eminent men usually go unread. Ponderous, long, and endlessly self-justifying, they aim at settling scores, at revenging slights, and at securing the much-desired Place in History. Though Gus Speth is decidedly eminent—possessor as he himself admits of an unparalleled resume—he is the precise opposite of pompous. His memoir is almost too short, and much of it is devoted to making the case that accidents of time and place helped make his career.

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The Surprising Reason Why Americans Are So Lonely, and Why Future Prosperity Means Socializing with Your Neighbors

Excerpted from the book EARTH: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet by Bill McKibben. Reprinted by arrangement with Henry Holt and Company, LLC. All rights reserved. Copyright (c) 2010 by Bill McKibben.

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Obama's Keystone Veto Threat Is Proof that Climate Activism Works

When the news arrived from the White House on Tuesday that Barack Obama would veto the GOP’s Keystone pipeline bill – or at least “that the president would not sign this bill” as is – I thought back to a poll that the National Journal conducted of its “energy insiders” in the fall of 2011, just when then issue was heating up. Nearly 92% of them thought Obama’s administration would approve the pipeline, and almost 71% said it would happen by the end of that year.

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10 Things You Need to Know About the U.S, China Climate Deal

1) It is historic. John Kerry was right to use the phrase in his New York Times oped announcing the deal: for the first time a developing nation has agreed to eventually limit its emissions, which has become a necessity for advancing international climate negotiations.

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Will Obama Ever Stand Up to the Oil Industry or Just Keep Bending?

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Can We Pull the Planet from the Brink of Catastrophe?

The following content originally appeared on TomDispatch

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Why Are the Democrats Failing the World on Climate Change?

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When Will Obama Act on Catastrophic Climate Change?

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Sandy the Frankenstorm: "If There Was Ever a Wake-up Call, This Is It"

AMY GOODMAN: We’re on the road in Medford, Oregon, broadcasting from Southern Oregon Public Television.

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A Summer of Extremes: Why You Should Get Used to Our Wild Weather

Just as the baseball season now stretches nearly into November, and the National Football League keeps adding games, so the summer season is in danger of extending on both ends, a kind of megalomaniac power grab fueled by the carbon pouring into the atmosphere.

In fact, you could argue that the North American summer actually started two days before the official end of winter this year, when the town of Winner, South Dakota turned in a 94-degree temperature reading. It was part of that wild July-in-March heat wave that stretched across two-thirds of the country, a stretch of weather so bizarre that historian Christopher Burt called it “probably the most extraordinary anomalous heat event” that the nation has ever seen. International Falls, “the icebox of the nation,” broke its heat records 10 straight days, and Chicago nine. In Traverse City, Michigan, on March 21, the record high was 87 degrees. But the low was 62 degrees, which was 4 degrees higher than the previous record high. The technical word for that is, insane.

And it wasn’t just the U.S. — new March records were set everywhere from Perth to Reykjavik, not to mention (this is the gun on the wall in Act One) Summit Station at the top of the Greenland Ice Cap.

Plants, responding in their plantlike ways, blossomed. And so, though April was warmer than normal, the expected frosts killed an awful lot of fruit before it could ever get started. Traverse City, for instance, sits at the heart of the U.S. cherry crop — but not this year. Still, April was a warmish pause, and May warm as well, with the heat gathering. And then right around the solstice in June, all hell broke loose — or at least something of a similar temperature.

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Why Do We Pay Energy Giants to Wreck Earth?

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Where Are the White House Solar Panels Obama Promised This Spring?

Thirty two years ago today, President Jimmy Carter installed a series of solar panels on the White House roof. He stood up there on the roof that day, and issued an oracular warning: "A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, or it can be a small part of the greatest adventures undertaken by the American people."

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Does Obama Have the Guts to Stand Up to Fossil Fuel Energy Interests?

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Texas GOP Fights Catastrophic Wildfires With Prayer and Global Warming Denial

Texas governor Rick Perry set aside these last few days for a period of prayer for rain across his state. It's easy to see why: Texas has seen scant precipitation since September, and the drought is now worse than at the height of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. Here's a spokesman for the state's forest service describing the fires that have broken out around the state: "This is a situation of historic proportions. The fuels are so dry. The winds are astronomical. The behavior of the winds is a perplexing situation. It's never been like this before."

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My Life as a Communist

This story first appeared in the Washington Post.

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Is Obama Serious About Breaking Our Catastrophic Oil Addiction?

Here's the president on March 31st, announcing his plan to lift a longstanding moratorium on offshore drilling: "Given our energy needs, in order to sustain economic growth and produce jobs, and keep our businesses competitive, we are going to need to harness traditional sources of fuel even as we ramp up production of new sources of renewable, homegrown energy."

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How the Mountain of Climate Change Evidence Is Being Used to Undermine the Cause

Twenty-one years ago, in 1989, I wrote what many have called the first book for a general audience on global warming. One of the more interesting reviews came from the Wall Street Journal.  It was a mixed and judicious appraisal.  “The subject,” the reviewer said, “is important, the notion is arresting, and Mr. McKibben argues convincingly.”  And that was not an outlier: around the same time, the first president Bush announced that he planned to “fight the greenhouse effect with the White House effect.”

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Social Action in Copenhagen Rivals Seattle Protest

It felt, at the start, a little like Seattle at the start. The same kind of joyful spontaneity that marked the first hours of the WTO protests, before the cops and the bandana-clad anarchists started trading blows. People gathered in front of the Danish Parliament building in the first sunshine seen for days (and it doesn’t last long at this latitude in December) to march to the conference headquarters about four miles away. The crowd—as many as 100,000 strong—was incredibly diverse: young people from around the world have swarmed into Copenhagen for the week, and they were dressed as penguins and polar bears and dinosaurs, singing, dancing to stay warm against the cold breeze. There was one other odd thing—many carried photos of other protests from the year past, ones they’d helped organize in their home countries. We saw shot after shot from our Oct. 24 350 rallies; it was as if people were delegates to some kind of global convention, carrying the hopes of their friends back home.

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Why Copenhagen May Be a Disaster

Most political arguments don’t really have a right and a wrong, no matter how passionately they’re argued. They’re about human preferences -- for more health care or lower taxes, for a war to secure some particular end or a peace that leaves some danger intact.  On occasion, there are clear-cut moral issues: the rights of minorities or women to a full share in public life, say; but usually even those of us most passionate about human affairs recognize that we’re on one side of a debate, that there are legitimate arguments to the contrary (endless deficits, coat-hanger abortions, a resurgent al-Qaeda). We need people taking strong positions to move issues forward, which is why I’m always ready to carry a placard or sign a petition, but most of us also realize that, sooner or later, we have to come to some sort of compromise.

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