Bill McKibben: Inspiration through Depression?

Male, Maldives 10/10/10 day of action (Photo Credit: Mohamed Rasheed Ahmed/Creative Commons)
I had the pleasure of hearing Bill McKibben speak last Sunday.  McKibben is the author of several books on climate change and founder of   He was introduced as a “prophet” but described himself as a “professional bummer-outter of people”  He was right!  I definitely appreciated his honestly and the fact that he didn’t sugar coat the information, but, boy, I left a little depressed.  
He started by presenting the following facts:
  • We have raised the Earth’s temperature by 1 degree, trapping more energy
  • Oceans have absorbed enough carbon to make them 30% more acidic.  Acidic waters are not friendly to some of its inhabitants.
  • Warm air holds more water.  The air is 4% wetter now.  This sets us up for more droughts and more flooding.  Making food production more difficult
We have seen some strange weather over the last few years.  I don’t remember seasons being so different one year to the next when I was growing up.  In New England, it snowed in the winter, roughly the same amount.  In the summer it was warm, not 100 degrees.  Now, you just don’t know what the weather will bring.  Last winter, we had so much snow we didn’t know where to put it.  This year, school was cancelled Oct 31 – Nov 3 for a freak snow storm, then nothing to really speak of for the rest of winter.  Then we had the week of 70 – 80 degree weather a couple of weeks ago – in MARCH! 
“I know everyone enjoyed the heck out of the fine weather last week and I did too.  But I felt weird about enjoying it.” McKibben said.  The temperatures weren’t just off the charts.  “They were off the wall that the charts were tacked to”, he said.
“Here’s the scary part,” he cautioned, “we are only at the beginning.”  A one degree change now can turn into a 4 to 5 degree change by the end of the century.  We cannot cope on a planet like that.
McKibben believes that we cannot stop climate change, but we might have time to stop it from getting any worse. 
Technology is not the problem he told us.  That is the easy part.  Our problem is political.  Do we have the will to do what is needed fast enough?  McKibben explained that we need to figure out how to confront the fossil fuel industry.  They are screaming loudly in our governments ears, using lobbyist to get their way.   We can’t out spend them.  We need another type of currency, “passion, spirit, and creativity.”  With the delay of the Keystone XL Pipeline, big oil may have lost that fight.  But they are not backing down.
One thing he said really struck me.  He said that many people believe environmentalists are the radicals.  He explained, “They (fossil fuel industry) are radical.  They are willing to alter the chemical composition of the atmosphere to make money.”
In the last few minutes of his speech, I could feel a knot forming in the pit of my stomach. Images of my children flashed in my mind.  What kind of world will they be raising their children in?  He showed several pictures of’s first day of action during the lecture.  The one shown at the top of this post stood out and was held on the screen for quite a while.    These little girls’ faces brought tears to my eyes.  Places that have been hardest hit by climate change did not cause it.
Now that I have calmed down, I am more energized to change things!
On May 5, is planning another day of action called “Connect the Dots.”    To connect the dots between climate change and extreme weather. 
Will you be a part of this?  

2 Responses to Bill McKibben: Inspiration through Depression?

  1. Kath April 2, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    Yes, planning on connecting a dot. One idea I had was to string laundry lines all over a public park of some sort, so ‘make a dot’ of positive change. I figured that would maybe resonate with moms?

  2. The Greening Of Westford April 2, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

    Love the idea Kath!

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