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Bill McKibben is the author of a dozen books, including The End of Nature and Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. A former staff writer for The New Yorker, he writes regularly for Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New York Review of Books, among other publications. In April 2007, he organized the Step It Up National Day of Climate Action, one of the largest global warming protests to date. Most recently, he has co-founder of 350.org, an international grassroots campaign that aims to mobilize a global climate movement united by a common call to action. He is a scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College, and lives in Vermont with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, and their daughter.
America's deportation squads want to expel our neighbours. We are saying no
Many of us have spent part of the past couple weeks trying to win the freedom of three of our neighbors -- Kike Balcazar, Zully Palacios and Alex Carrillo. They are undocumented immigrants, who came here to work on our farms, and were detained by the (aptly named) Ice, or Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, in New Hampshire, awaiting deportation.
Saturday, March 25, 2017(2 comments)
Citizens Must Hold Government Accountable on Climate
One way of dealing with those unpleasant climate truths is to stop paying attention. A spokesman for the White House said last week that the federal government was no longer going to "waste money" on climate research. Money to maintain even existing climate satellites is disappearing. NASA has been told to stop worrying about our home planet and focus on Mars.
Friday, March 24, 2017
No Keystone XL live strategy session
Every new pipeline, frack well and coal port is being fought and fought hard. You've heard of some of these fights, like the Dakota Access pipeline, but there are now hundreds of them across the world. Keystone jump-started a whole new phase of the movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
Sunday, March 12, 2017(3 comments)
College students should resist -- not silence -- their political foes
Everyone involved needs to take it for the serious task it is, understanding that emotion is as much an enemy as a friend for activists. There's no easy version of activism, any more than there is of physics or French or the other tasks college students seriously engage in. In fact, protest is probably a subject, like first aid or how to use the fire extinguisher, that college freshmen should learn.
Wednesday, March 1, 2017(3 comments)
The job at hand
The losses we've suffered just in the past week, as the new EPA head started gutting water and air protections, makes me think of the earlier generations of activists who worked so hard to get these laws enacted. Last night I wanted to shout at the TV when, instead of mentioning climate change, Trump boasted about approving new pipelines.
Thursday, February 23, 2017(7 comments)
Is the Democratic party with the resistance? This weekend might tell
Perez is from the ruling wing, the institutional party. He is closely identified with Barack Obama, who he worked for, and Hillary Clinton, who he supported. Ellison is from the movement wing. He is closely identified with Bernie Sanders. Indeed, he was one of the few members of Congress who actively supported his insurgent candidacy.
Thursday, February 9, 2017(1 comments)
Trump's Pipeline and America's Shame
In this standoff, we have confronted our oldest and one of our most shameful stories. That shame will deepen now -- which may, once Trump is gone, allow us to move closer to real reconciliation. At any rate, we owe a great debt to the protesters, who have acted with a dignity conspicuously lacking in the Oval Office.
Friday, January 27, 2017(2 comments)
A Bad Day For The Environment, With Many More To Come
There is a new day dawning, and we're sure as hell not going to use any of that sunlight for energy. Instead, it's clear that we're about to witness the steady demolition, or attempted demolition, of the environmental protections that have been put in place over the past five decades.
Tuesday, January 24, 2017(17 comments)
With the Rise of Trump, Is It Game Over for the Climate Fight?
That galloping momentum of warming scares me. It should scare everyone; for a decade now it has threatened to take this crisis beyond the reach of politics. To catch up with the physics of climate change we'd need a truly stunning commitment to change, an all-out, planet-wide decision to push as hard as we've ever pushed to spread clean energy and shut down the dirty stuff.
Thursday, January 12, 2017
Rex Tillerson is big oil personified. The damage he can do is immense
The disgrace is the long, slow reveal by investigative reporters that Exxon knew all about climate change as early as the late 1970s. In a rational world, Congress would be grilling Rex Tillerson about the company's conduct, not preparing to hand him the country's plum unelected job.
Saturday, January 7, 2017(1 comments)
Democrats shouldn't squander their one advantage
The Bernie Sanders energy won't disappear -- it's already powering the new civil rights movement and the fight for climate justice. But it will disappear from the Democratic Party if the party doesn't seize the opportunity that Ellison offers. It won't be the fault of the Russians or the FBI. And it may not come again.
The victory at Standing Rock could mark a turning point
This was not just one tribe: this was pretty much all of native North America. The flags of more than 200 Indian nations lined the rough dirt entrance road. Other Americans, drawn in part by a sense of shame at this part of our heritage, flooded in to help -- when the announcement came today, there were thousands of military veterans on hand.
Saturday, December 3, 2016(8 comments)
How to save the planet from President Trump
We may have to live in a hot world, but we don't have to live in a jackbooted one, and the more community we can preserve, the more resilient our communities will be. It's hard not to despair -- but then, it wasn't all that easy to be realistically hopeful about our climate even before Trump. This has always been a battle against great odds. They're just steeper now.
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Standing Rock is the civil rights issue of our time -- let's act accordingly
Representatives of more 200 Indian nations have gathered at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in an effort to prevent construction of an oil pipeline that threatens the tribe's water supply, not to mention the planet's climate. It's a remarkable encampment, perhaps the greatest show of indigenous unity in the continent's history.
Sunday, November 20, 2016
Trump's dilemma: to please his friends by trashing the Paris climate deal, or not?
It's entirely possible Trump will send the Paris accords to the Senate for some kind of show vote, letting the entire Republican party take the heat for its climate-denying views. This would demonstrate weakness of a particularly childish sort -- the coat-holding boy who goads everyone else into a fight and steps back to watch.
Saturday, November 19, 2016(3 comments)
Donald Trump is Betting Against all Odds on Climate Change
This year has been the hottest year recorded in modern history, smashing the record set in 2015, which smashed the record set in 2014. The extra heat has begun to steadily raise sea levels, to the point where some coastal U.S. cities already flood at high tide even in calm weather. Global sea ice levels are at record lows, and the oceans are 30 percent more acidic. And that's just so far.
Saturday, October 29, 2016(5 comments)
Why Dakota Is the New Keystone
Those heroes on the Standing Rock reservation, sometimes on horseback, have peacefully stood up to police dogs, pepper spray and the bizarre-looking militarized tanks and SWAT teams that are the stuff of modern policing. In coming weeks, activists will respond by gathering at the offices of banks funding the pipeline, and at the offices of the Army Corps of Engineers, for protest and civil disobedience.
Monday, October 17, 2016(1 comments)
Donald Trump Isn't the Only Enemy on the Ballot
Trump is such an idiot that he's easy to spot; it looks as if there will be enough antibodies to protect the body politic from his poison. But forces like the Koch brothers are more insidious. They're what daily, undramatically diminishes our democracy. They're what turn people off to politics, convert them to cynicism (which I suspect is the Kochs' real goal).
The oceans are heating up. That's a big problem on a blue planet
We have, thanks to them, a vibrant and rising movement to defend the Earth. In North Dakota today, Native Americans are laying their bodies on the line to block a new oil pipeline across the Missouri river. They are calling themselves Water Protectors. We would do well, all of us, to take up the same avocation. Because we live on an ocean planet.
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
After 525 years, it's time to actually listen to Native Americans
The Army Corps of Engineers might back off. The president might decide, as he did with Keystone, that this pipeline would "exacerbate" climate change and hence should be reviewed more carefully. We might, after five centuries, actually listen to the only people who've ever successfully inhabited this continent for the long term.
Monday, August 15, 2016(7 comments)
A World At War
By most of the ways we measure wars, climate change is the real deal: Carbon and methane are seizing physical territory, sowing havoc and panic, racking up casualties, and even destabilizing governments. It's not that global warming is like a world war. It is a world war. it's a world war aimed at us all. And if we lose, we will be as decimated and helpless as the losers in every conflict.
Saturday, August 6, 2016(3 comments)
Embarrassing Photos of Me, Thanks to My Right-Wing Stalkers
All kinds of odd things are appearing on right-wing corners of the web: out-of-context quotations from old books and articles apparently put on display to prove I'm a zealot, and photos from God knows who intended to make me out as a hypocrite (the plastic bags, for instance, and my travel by car, which, you know, burns gas). Mostly, they've just published those creepy videos, to remind me that I'm under surveillance.
Saturday, July 30, 2016(13 comments)
Bill McKibben: The Real Work Begins Nov. 9
Our job is not to elect a savior. Our job is to elect someone we can effectively pressure. And as tough as the work of this election will be--the real work starts on Wednesday, Nov. 9. That's how it seems to me, anyway. There's plenty to be scared of this election season and plenty to hope for. And most of all there's plenty of work to be done.
Tuesday, July 12, 2016(2 comments)
Why Bernie's Message Will Endure
Clinton could decide to ignore the promises her team made. It will be up to the movement to enforce these promises -- but we're good at doing that, in no small part thanks to the lessons in relentlessness we've learned from Bernie. If she backslides once in office, the words of her platform will be printed on every sign and banner we carry for the next four years.
Tuesday, June 28, 2016(5 comments)
The Clinton Campaign Is Obstructing Change to the Democratic Platform
The Sanders campaign has been about issues, issues, issues. I mean, the guy gives 90-minute speeches every day that are entirely about actual things that need to change. It seems weird in an American political context, which is normally about posturing and spin, but for many of us it's refreshing.
Saturday, May 21, 2016(5 comments)
Let's give up the climate change charade: Exxon won't change its stripes
The Exxons of the world are not going to change their stripes, not voluntarily. It will be time for state treasurers and religious groups to join those students and frontline communities and climate scientists who are saying "No more." It will be time -- past time -- to get serious, divest and break free of fossil fuels once and for all.
Friday, May 6, 2016(1 comments)
It's Time to Turn Up the Heat on Those Who Are Wrecking Planet Earth
From one end of the planet to the other, people are taking greater risks this month. In one of the biggest coordinated civil disobedience actions the world has ever seen, frontline communities and climate scientists and indigenous people and faith leaders and just plain people who actually give a damn will be sitting down and sitting in and standing pat.
Saturday, April 9, 2016
It's Time to Break Free From Fossil Fuels
The transition to renewable energy is coming sooner and faster than anyone thought. Ninety percent of the new electricity generation installed last year was renewable, leading to two years running of flat -- though still too high -- global carbon emissions. It's likely that this fight is the biggest humanity will ever face.
Wednesday, March 23, 2016(6 comments)
Global Warming's Terrifying New Chemistry
It's possible that America's contribution to global warming increased during the Obama years. The methane story is utterly at odds with what we've been telling ourselves, not to mention what we've been telling the rest of the planet. It undercuts the promises we made at the climate talks in Paris. It's a disaster--and one that seems set to spread.
Saturday, March 5, 2016(4 comments)
The Mercury Doesn't Lie: We've Hit a Troubling Climate Change Milestone
There is legislation pending in the House and Senate that would end new fossil fuel extraction on America's public lands. Senator Sanders has backed the law unequivocally; Secretary Clinton seemed to endorse it, and then last week seemed to waffle. Donald Trump has concentrated on the length of his fingers.
Saturday, February 20, 2016
It's Not Just What Exxon Did, It's What It's Doing
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. What we need from Exxon is what they'll never give: a pledge to keep most of their reserves underground, an end to new exploration, and a promise to stay away from the political system.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016(6 comments)
Bill McKibben: Not Me. Us.
Younger people and poorer people may sense an urgent need for change. I mean, we've just broken the planet's temperature record two years in a row. If you think that we need a leader who will push to change the way we see the world then it makes perfect sense to imagine Bernie as the realistic candidate, the one who will get things done.
Friday, January 29, 2016
A Mosquito Net Descends Across the Americas
Sometime in the last 10 days, a mosquito net has descended across the Americas. It is unlikely to cause armed conflict between great powers, but unless we are very lucky, the new divisions it creates are likely to linger, truncating and deforming relationships, and changing the way that rising generations view the world in which they live.
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
The Zika virus foreshadows our dystopian climate future
Spread by mosquitoes whose range inexorably expands as the climate warms, Zika causes mild flu-like symptoms. But pregnant women bitten by the wrong mosquito are liable to give birth to babies with shrunken heads. Brazil last year recorded 4,000 cases of this "microcephaly." As of today, authorities in Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, El Salvador and Venezuela were urging women to avoid getting pregnant.
Saturday, January 23, 2016(6 comments)
How to Stop the Fossil Fuel Industry From Wrecking Our World
If you can't do fossil fuel, after all, you have to do something else -- sun, wind, conservation. This has to be our response to the living-dead future that the fossil fuel industry and its allied politicians imagine for our beleaguered world: no new fossil fuel infrastructure. None. The climate math is just too obvious.
Monday, December 14, 2015(7 comments)
Falling Short on Climate in Paris
We need to build the movement even bigger in the coming years, so that the Paris agreement turns into a floor and not a ceiling for action. We'll be blocking pipelines, fighting new coal mines, urging divestment from fossil fuels -- trying, in short, to keep weakening the mighty industry that still stands in the way of real progress.
Thursday, November 19, 2015(1 comments)
Bill McKibben's Letter to the Future
This letter to the future by Bill McKibben is part of the Letters to the Future campaign, a national effort to encourage people from all walks of life to write six generations into the future about climate change. The campaign puts a spotlight on the importance of world leaders agreeing to a global climate treaty at COP21 in Paris.
Sunday, November 15, 2015(6 comments)
We Must Keep Brewing Gale-Force Winds to Shift The Political Landscape
Don't expect President Obama (or President Clinton) to be out in the lead, and don't expect Congress to do a damn thing. The job of movements is to keep brewing up the gale-force winds that shifted our political landscape last week -- and to hope we can do it before hurricane-force winds, drought, flood and sea level rise shift our landscape.
Saturday, November 7, 2015(2 comments)
Exxon, Keystone, and the Turn Against Fossil Fuels
For years, the fossil-fuel industry has labored to sell the idea that a transition to renewable energy would necessarily be painfully slow -- that it would take decades before anything fundamental started to shift. Inevitability was their shield, but no longer. If we wanted to transform our energy supply, we clearly could, though it would require an enormous global effort.
Friday, November 6, 2015(6 comments)
350.org -- President Obama Rejects Keystone XL. We Win.
We just made history together. 4 years to the day after we surrounded the White House, President Obama has rejected the Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline!
This is huge.
A head of state has never rejected a major fossil fuel project because of its climate impacts before.
Monday, November 2, 2015
TransCanada asks for KXL application "suspension"
This is -- make no mistake -- a massive victory for people power. You emailed, you phoned, you marched, and in record numbers you went to jail. That's what it took to persuade the arrogant oil industry they simply couldn't prevail in their plan to pump the world's filthiest oil across the heart of the continent.
Friday, October 30, 2015(1 comments)
Imagine If Exxon Had Told the Truth on Climate Change
Of all the lies that Exxon leaders told about climate change, none may quite top the 1997 insistence that "it is highly unlikely that the temperature in the middle of the next century will be significantly affected whether policies are enacted now or 20 years from now." Exxon scientists knew that was wrong, and so did pretty much everyone else.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Exxon Knew Everything There Was to Know About Climate Change by the Mid-1980s -- and Denied It
We know now that behind the scenes Exxon understood precisely what was going on, in public they feigned ignorance or worse. CEO Lee Raymond described global warming as "projections are based on completely unproven climate models, or, more often, on sheer speculation," and insisted -- in a key presentation to China's leading officials in 1997 -- that the globe was probably cooling.
With Clinton and the Pope on board, the climate movement has wind in its sails
The pope's powerful encyclical last summer is a reminder to every politician of exactly which way the wind is now blowing. That wind is in the sails of the climate movement now, and so there will be more days like this to come. Whether they come in time to slow the planet's careening new physics is an open question, but at last the political and financial climate has begun to change almost as fast as the physical one.
Sunday, September 20, 2015(4 comments)
What Exxon Knew About Climate Change
Exxon didn't just "know" about climate change: it conducted some of the original research. In the nineteen-seventies and eighties, the company employed top scientists who worked side by side with university researchers and the Department of Energy, even outfitting one of the company's tankers with special sensors and sending it on a cruise to gather CO2 readings over the ocean.
Monday, August 31, 2015
The Turning Point Towards a Low-Carbon Future
We're suddenly and decisively, in a one-way transition to a renewable future and the only question -- perhaps the most important question humans have ever faced -- is whether we can make that transition fast enough to save the planet.
Sunday, August 23, 2015
Picturing the End of Fossil Fuels
Even without understanding the science of climate change -- the horror that the carbon from that digger and that drill rig is driving -- you have a visceral sense that they're in the wrong moment, the wrong mood. The fight against Arctic oil and German coal will be long and hard.
Friday, July 3, 2015(1 comments)
5 Reasons Environmentalists Distrust Hillary Clinton
The banks backing Keystone, just to give one small example, have been regular and enormous patrons. It's not illegal, any of it, and it's not quite the same as the way the Koch brothers simply purchased the GOP, but it's not far enough away, either. Influence is ... influence.
The Next Decade Will Decide What the World Looks Like for Thousands of Decades to Come
The next decade is decisive because trajectory counts for so much; if we bend it now, we may slide the car to a halt with just the front tires hanging off the cliff. But if we sail on for a few more years, it's pretty clear we're fast and furiously going airborne -- that's what happens when, say, Arctic permafrost starts to melt in earnest, releasing clouds of methane.
Saturday, May 2, 2015(8 comments)
Why the Planet Is Happy That Bernie Sanders Is Running for President
Bernie Sanders isn't really running against Hillary Clinton. He's running against the Koch Brothers, the richest men on earth. They'll spend at least $900 million on the next election, and if Bernie Sanders catches fire they'll spend far more than that--because he's got their number. They know, in their heart of hearts, that there's two of them and hundreds of millions of us, and that's got to be a little scary.
Saturday, April 4, 2015(6 comments)
The Guardian Divests $1.2 Billion Fund From Fossil Fuels
When the roll of honor for action on climate change is someday called, The Guardian's name will be high on the list. They've taken a bold step in joining the fight to keep fossil fuels in the ground, both through their journalism and their own investments.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Climate fight won't wait for Paris: vive la resistance
if politicians want to lead, they need to stop new fossil fuel development now. A piece of paper explaining what should happen 20 years from now is easier for them to sell, but atmospheric chemistry is unimpressed. Hilary Clinton, to name one example, says the right things about the dangers of climate change, but she's backed Keystone from the start -- a pointless combination.
Stepping Down But Continuing Fight for Climate Justice
Unless that end to coal and oil and gas comes swiftly, the damage from global warming will overwhelm us. Winning too slowly is the same as losing, so we have a crucial series of fights ahead: divestment, fracking, Keystone, and many others that we don't yet know about.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014(6 comments)
The Big Climate Deal: What It Is and What It Isn't
It isn't a way for Obama to get off the hook on things like the Keystone pipeline. If he's serious about meeting these kinds of targets, then we need serious steps; the surest sign this is a talking point, not a serious commitment, would be to approve new pipelines or authorize new drilling. If you pledge sobriety and then buy a keg of beer, people are going to wonder.
Monday, November 3, 2014(1 comments)
The IPCC is stern on climate change -- but it still underestimates the situation
Breaking the power of the fossil fuel industry won't be easy, especially since it has to happen fast. It has to happen, in fact, before the carbon we've unleashed into the atmosphere breaks the planet. I'm not certain we'll win this fight -- but, thanks to the IPCC, no one will ever be able to say they weren't warned.