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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.
Irish parliament makes history with vote to divest country fully from fossil fuels
The year began with New York City divesting -- but it's continued with huge wins at universities and in cities around the globe. And better yet, Shell officially noted in its annual report last month that divestment has come to pose a material risk to their business. We're fighting for the zeitgeist -- for the vision of the future. And today anyway, we're winning.
Some rare good climate news: the fossil fuel industry is weaker than ever
There's been reason this month for hope -- reason, at least, to think that the basic trajectory of the world away from coal and gas and oil is firmly underway. From Wall Street came welcome word that market perceptions haven't really changed: even in the age of Trump, the fossil fuel industry has gone from the world's surest bet to an increasingly challenged enterprise.
Saturday, June 16, 2018(18 comments)
Big Oil CEOs needed a climate change reality check. The pope delivered
It's odd to have the pope schooling energy executives on the math of carbon. But actually, no odder than NFL quarterbacks schooling politicians on racial injustice, or high school kids schooling a nation on the danger of guns. Good common sense speaks even more loudly when it comes from unexpected corners.
Sunday, June 10, 2018(2 comments)
Donald Trump is costing us one precious thing: time
Climate change comes with a time limit. We don't have four years to waste ignoring it, not when Arctic sea ice is reaching new lows and temperatures are breaking records. Even if a new president someday takes up climate seriously, the carbon we're spewing now will still be in the atmosphere to haunt us over geological time. Time is the trouble.
Wednesday, May 30, 2018(1 comments)
Say hello to Justin Trudeau, the world's newest oil executive
Justin Trudeau's government announced on Tuesday that it would nationalize the Kinder Morgan pipeline running from the tar sands of Alberta to the tidewater of British Columbia. It will fork over at least $4.5bn in Canadian taxpayers' money for the right to own a 60-year-old pipe that springs leaks regularly, and the right to push through a second pipeline on the same route -- a proposal that has provoked strong opposition.
Monday, May 21, 2018(8 comments)
Hit Fossil Fuels Where It Hurts -- the Bottom Line
The oil industry is slowly being cornered, like the tobacco industry before it. Just as they once promised to go "Smoke Free," towns across the country are now pledging to go "Fossil Free," banning new fossil-fuel projects and committing to 100 percent renewable energy for all.
Thursday, May 10, 2018
We will always need the perspective of outsiders, of unsocialized, uncredentialed non-experts, in order to see what plainly needs to be seen. Carson, Jacobs, Goodall, and Waters were and are geniuses, extraordinary spirits, remarkable souls -- just the kind of people rarely produced by the normal order of things.
Sunday, April 22, 2018(4 comments)
100% Renewable Energy is Within Our Reach
We can't have a working nation or a world if we don't stop the climate from careening out of control. That's been clear for decades now, but what's been less clear is precisely what we should do about it. We have to switch off of coal, oil, and gas, and onto 100% wind, water, and sun energy sources.
Saturday, February 3, 2018(1 comments)
We can battle climate change without Washington DC. Here's how
The strategy that's been evolving for US climate action -- and for action in many other parts of the planet -- bypasses the central governments as much as possible. That's because the oil industry is strongest in national capitals -- that's where its money is most toxically powerful. But if frontal attack is therefore hard, its flanks are wide open. This fight is going aggressively local, and fast.
Friday, January 26, 2018(1 comments)
Three Strategies to Get to a Fossil-Free America
The fossil-fuel industry doesn't hold all the high cards. We'll start playing our own aces for a Fossil-Free United States on January 31, when Bernie Sanders and an all-star lineup brought together by 350.org that includes everyone from indigenous activist Dallas Goldtooth to NAACP organizer Jacqui Patterson to star youth climate organizer Varshini Prakash lay out a coordinated plan for the year ahead.
Saturday, January 20, 2018(3 comments)
The Resistance to Trump Will Be Local
With the utter hostility to science on display in Washington, we're all working hard to persuade cities and states to uphold the Paris climate accord by committing to 100 percent renewable energy. The bizarreness of the president -- the ugliness of his politics and the poison of his personality -- may prompt many of us to start thinking about the problem of scale in our political life.
Winning Slowly Is the Same as Losing
By 2075 the world will be powered by solar panels and windmills -- free energy is a hard business proposition to beat. But on current trajectories, they'll light up a busted planet. The decisions we make in 2075 won't matter; indeed, the decisions we make in 2025 will matter much less than the ones we make in the next few years. The leverage is now.
Sunday, November 12, 2017(1 comments)
We're not even close to being prepared for the rising waters
For the 10,000 years of human civilization, we've been blessed with a relatively stable climate, and hence flooding has been an exceptional terror. As that blessing comes to an end with our reckless heating of the planet, the exceptional is becoming all too normal, as residents of Houston and South Florida and Puerto Rico found out already this fall.
Renewable Energy -- 100 Percent Solution
the Trump administration is threatening to impose massive tariffs on solar panels coming into the United States. This could dramatically drive up the price of new U.S. solar installations, and two-thirds of the new arrays expected to come online over the next five years might never be built. The political battle for renewables will be hard-fought.
Trump's Stupid and Reckless Climate Decision
People say, if all you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail. We should be so lucky. President Trump has a hammer, but all he'll use it for is to smash things that others have built, as the world looks on in wonder and in fear.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017(4 comments)
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.