It’s time to stop investing in the fossil fuel industry

Bill McKibbenIt makes no sense to pay for one’s pension by investing in companies that make sure we won’t have a planet to retire on

Bill McKibben, guardian.co.uk, May 30, 2013

Earlier this month, the trustees of the city graveyard in Santa Monica, California (final resting place of actor Glenn Ford and tennis star May Sutton) announced they were selling their million dollars worth of stock in fossil fuel companies. As far as I know they were the first cemetery board to do so, but they join a gathering wave of universities, churches and synagogues, city governments and pension funds. Continue lendo

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The Battle Against Big Energy’s Rush to Ruin Our Planet

The energy industry tries to sell us ‘ethical oil’, ‘clean coal’ and ‘natural gas’, but this extreme weather is mobilising people to act

Daryl Hannah, The Guardian, November 1, 2012

Extreme killer superstorms, historic drought, vanishing sea ice, an increase in ocean acidity by 30%, the hottest decade on record and mega forest fires have increasingly become our new reality.

“That’s all happened when you raise the temperature of the earth one degree,” says author Bill McKibben, “[t]he temperature will go up four degrees, maybe five, unless we get off coal and gas and oil very quickly.” Additional temperature rises could compromise our safety and cause incalculable damage from a large number of billion-dollar disasters in coming years – if we don’t address our emissions, insist upon an appropriate climate policy and curtail the rogue fossil fuel industry. Continue lendo

A Grim Warning from Science

Bill McKibben, The New York Review of Books, November 1, 2012

One of the things that makes Sandy different from Katrina is that it’s a relatively clean story. The lessons of Katrina were numerous and painful—they had to do with race, with class, with the willful incompetence of a government that had put a professional Arabian horse fancier in charge of its rescue efforts.
Sandy, by contrast, has been pretty straightforward. It’s hit rich, poor, and middle class Americans with nearly equal power, though of course the affluent always have it easier in the aftermath of tragedy. Government officials prepared forthrightly for its arrival, and have refrained from paralysis and bickering in its wake. Which allows us to concentrate on the only really useful message it might deliver: that we live in a changed world, where we need both to adapt to the changes, and to prevent further changes so great that adaptation will be impossible. Continue lendo

Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math

Bill McKibben, Rolling Stone, August 2nd, 2012

If the pictures of those towering wildfires in Colorado haven’t convinced you, or the size of your AC bill this summer, here are some hard numbers about climate change: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe.

Meteorologists reported that this spring was the warmest ever recorded for our nation – in fact, it crushed the old record by so much that it represented the “largest temperature departure from average of any season on record.” The same week, Saudi authorities reported that it had rained in Mecca despite a temperature of 109 degrees, the hottest downpour in the planet’s history. Continue lendo

A Summer of Extremes Signifies the New Normal

This summer has seen record heat waves and wildfires in the U.S, the worst flooding in Beijing’s modern history, and droughts that devastated the U.S. corn crop and led India to set up “refugee camps” for livestock. These extreme events were not freak occurrences – this is how the Earth works now.

Bill Mckibben, Yale Environment 360, September 4, 2012

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. Continue lendo

Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math

Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe – and that make clear who the real enemy

Bill McKibben, Rolling Stone, July 24, 2012

If the pictures of those towering wildfires in Colorado haven’t convinced you, or the size of your AC bill this summer, here are some hard numbers about climate change: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe. Continue lendo

A Long Hot Summer

It’s turning into a hot climate summer in two ways, only one of which you can measure with a thermometer.

Bill McKibben, Common Dreams, July 19, 2012

Amidst the deepening drought, the summer’s fourth heat wave, and the continued western fires, there’s something else breaking out: a siege of citizen uprisings at key points around the country all designed to keep coal in the hole, oil in the soil, gas… underground.

Ever since the mass arrests protesting the Keystone pipeline last summer (the largest civil disobedience action in the U.S. in 30 years) there’s been renewed interest in confronting the fossil fuel industry and its political enablers. Some have been following this path for years, of course — late next week, beginning July 25, opponents of mountain-top removal coal-mining will resume their long-standing (and increasingly successful fight), with a week-long Mountain Mobilization that will likely include civil disobedience. Continue lendo

Time For Outrage On Behalf of the Planet

It’s Time to Fight the Status Quo

Bill McKibben, Solutions, June 7, 2012

My solution is: get outraged. Having written the first book about global warming 23 long years ago, I’ve watched the issue unfold across decades, continents, and ideologies. I’ve come to earth summits and conferences of the parties from Rio to Kyoto to Copenhagen, and many places in between.

All along, two things have been clear. One, the scientists who warned us about climate change were absolutely correct—their only mistake, common among scientists, was in being too conservative. So far we’ve raised the temperature of the earth about one degree Celsius, and two decades ago it was hard to believe this would be enough to cause huge damage. But it was. We’ve clearly come out of the Holocene and into something else. Forty percent of the summer sea ice in the Arctic is gone; the ocean is 30 percent more acidic. There’s nothing theoretical about any of this any more. Since warm air holds more water vapor than cold, the atmosphere is about 4 percent wetter than it used to be, which has loaded the dice for drought and flood. In my home country, 2011 smashed the record for multibillion-dollar weather disasters—and we were hit nowhere near as badly as some. Thailand’s record flooding late in the year did damage equivalent to 18 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). That’s almost unbelievable. But it’s not just scientists who have been warning us. Continue lendo

With the Keystone Pipeline, Drawing a Line in the Tar Sands

For environmentalists protesting the Keystone XL pipeline, the battle is about more than just transporting tar sands oil from Alberta. It’s about whether the United States — and the rest of the world — will finally come to its senses about global warming.

Bill Mckibben, Yale Environment 360, October 6, 2011

In the last three years, three things have happened to the climate movement, one political, one meteorological, and one geological. Taken together, they explain why 1,253 people were arrested outside the White House in late summer protesting the Keystone XL pipeline — and why that protest may be the start of something big and desperate. Continue lendo

A Timely Reminder of the Real Limits to Growth

It has been more than 30 years since a groundbreaking book predicted that if growth continued unchecked, the Earth’s ecological systems would be overwhelmed within a century. The latest study from an international team of scientists should serve as an eleventh-hour warning that cannot be ignored.

Bill Mckibben, Yale Environment 360, October 1, 2009

Let’s play doctor. I’m sitting there in a white coat looking at my clipboard and I say: “Hmmm, your cholesterol is going up. If you keep eating this way, you’re going to have a heart attack some day.” You hear that, and you stop on the way home for a bacon double cheeseburger.

But now imagine I’m sitting there in my white coat looking at my clipboard and all of a sudden I whistle, and say: “Your cholesterol is off the charts, man. You’re in the zone where people have heart attacks all the time. You better hope you get it down before the stroke.” You hear that, and you stop on the way home for some Lipitor and a pair of running shoes.

We’ve known for a very long time now that, in some vague way, we were headed for trouble. Limits to Growth was published in 1972, and its assorted charts and graphs made remarkably clear that, as the authors of that seminal book put it at the time, “If the present growth trends in world population, industrialization, pollution, food production, and resource depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime within the next one hundred years. The most probable result will be a rather sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity.” Continue lendo

The Planet Strikes Back

Why We Underestimate the Earth and Overestimate Ourselves

Michael T. Klare, TomDispatch.com, April 14, 2011

In his 2010 book, Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, environmental scholar and activist Bill McKibben writes of a planet so devastated by global warming that it’s no longer recognizable as the Earth we once inhabited. This is a planet, he predicts, of “melting poles and dying forests and a heaving, corrosive sea, raked by winds, strafed by storms, scorched by heat.” Altered as it is from the world in which human civilization was born and thrived, it needs a new name — so he gave it that extra “a” in “Eaarth.”

The Eaarth that McKibben describes is a victim, a casualty of humankind’s unrestrained consumption of resources and its heedless emissions of climate-altering greenhouse gases. True, this Eaarth will cause pain and suffering to humans as sea levels rise and croplands wither, but as he portrays it, it is essentially a victim of human rapaciousness.

With all due respect to McKibben’s vision, let me offer another perspective on his (and our) Eaarth: as a powerful actor in its own right and as an avenger, rather than simply victim. Continue lendo

Japan’s Horror Reveals How Thin is the Edge We Live On

Climate change may not be responsible for the tsunami, but it is shrinking our margin of safety. It is time to shrink back ourselves

Bill McKibben, The Guardian, March 20, 2011

It’s scary to watch the video from Japan, and not just because of the frightening explosions at the Fukushima plant or the unstoppable surge of tsunami-wash through the streets. It’s almost as unnerving to see the aftermath – the square miles of rubble, with boats piled on cars; the completely bare supermarket shelves. Because the one thing we’ve never really imagined is going to the supermarket and finding it empty. Continue lendo

Everything Is Negotiable, Except with Nature

You Can’t Bargain About Global Warming with Chemistry and Physics

Bill McKibben, TomDispatch.com, December 16, 2010

The UN’s big climate conference ended Saturday in Cancún, with claims of modest victory. “The UN climate talks are off the life-support machine,” said Tim Gore of Oxfam. “Not as rancorous as last year’s train wreck in Copenhagen,” wrote the Guardian. Patricia Espinosa, the Mexican foreign minister who brokered the final compromise, described it as “the best we could achieve at this point in a long process.”

The conference did indeed make progress on a few important issues: the outlines of financial aid for developing countries to help them deal with climate change, and some ideas on how to monitor greenhouse gas emissions in China and India. But it basically ignored the two crucial questions: How much carbon will we cut, and how fast? Continue lendo

We Need Your Ideas: A Call for Direct Action in the Climate Movement

An open letter from the Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace USA, and 350.org: What will it take to finally get serious about climate change?

Bill McKibben, Phil Radford, & Becky Tarbotton, YES! Magazine, September 14, 2010

Dear Friends,

God, what a summer. Federal scientists have concluded that we’ve just come through the warmest six months, the warmest year, and the warmest decade in human history. Nineteen nations have set new all-time temperature records; the mercury in Pakistan reached 129 degrees, the hottest temperature ever seen in Asia. And there’s nothing abstract about those numbers, not with Moscow choking on smoke from its epic heat wave and fires, not with Pakistan half washed away from its unprecedented flooding. Continue lendo

A Symbolic Solar Road Trip To Reignite a Climate Movement

An activist caravan to bring one of Jimmy Carter’s solar panels back to the White House symbolizes not only the time the U.S. has lost in developing new energy technologies – but also the urgent need for taking action on climate.

Bill McKibben, Yale Environment 360, September 7, 2010

As I write this piece, we’re in the midst of a (biodiesel) road trip to Washington, D.C., towing behind us an unwieldy piece of history: a solar panel off the roof of the Carter White House. It’s decades old, though it still makes hot water just fine. In a sense, we’re traveling backward-which in another sense is what I think we’re going to have to do for a while in the U.S. climate movement. Continue lendo

If There Was Ever a Moment to Seize

Bill McKibben, TomDispatch.com, June 6, 2010

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.”

Here he is on May 26th, as political pressure starts to really build over the hole in the bottom of the sea that BP somehow seems unable to plug: “We’re not going to be able to sustain this kind of fossil fuel use. The planet can’t sustain it.” Still, he added quickly, there’s no need for any dramatics: “We’re not going to transition out of oil next year or 10 years from now.” Continue lendo

Why Future Prosperity Depends on More Socializing

Access to cheap energy made us rich, wrecked our climate and left us lonely

Bill McKibben, On The Commons, May 6, 2010

The following is excerpted from McKibben’s latest book, Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet:

Community may suffer from overuse more sorely than any word in the dictionary. Politicians left and right sprinkle it through their remarks the way a bad Chinese restaurant uses MSG, to mask the lack of wholesome ingredients. But we need to rescue it; we need to make sure that community will become, on this tougher planet, one of the most prosaic terms in the lexicon, like hoe or bicycle or computer. Access to endless amounts of cheap energy made us rich, and wrecked our climate, and it also made us the first people on earth who had no practical need of our neighbors. Continue lendo

350 Degrees of Inseparability: The Good News About the Very Bad News (about Climate Change)

Rebecca Solnit, TomDispatch.com,  April 22, 2010

These days, I see how optimistic and positive disaster and apocalypse movies were. Remember how, when those giant asteroids or alien space ships headed directly for Earth, everyone rallied and acted as one while our leaders led? We’re in a movie like that now, except that there’s not a lot of rallying or much leading above the grassroots level. Continue lendo

The Attack on Climate-Change Science

Bill McKibben, Tom Dispatch, 25 de fevereiro de 2010

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.” Continue lendo

Washington’s Snowstorms, Brought to You by Global Warming

Bill McKibben, The Washington Post, 15 de fevereiro de 2010

RIPTON, VERMONT — You want to hear my winter weather story? No, really, I know you do.

The cross-country ski race I’ve been training for, set for today high in the Green Mountains: cancelled, lack of snow. Continue lendo