Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben is founder of 350.org and Schumann Distinguished Professor at Middlebury College in Vermont. He was recently honored with the Gandhi Peace Award for his work coordinating the civil disobedience actions around the Keystone XL pipeline in June 2011. He serves on Grist's Board of Directors.

A visit to Iceland spurs dreams of a hydrogen future

The loneliness of the long-distance rider. I have seen the future, and it works. The 111 bus rolls quietly up to the Mjodd terminal in eastern Reykjavik at 11:19 a.m., and I climb aboard. For 45 minutes, we cruise through the suburbs and then to the central square downtown, picking up and discharging eight passengers along the way. Fuel cells that would have filled the space of several passenger seats five years ago are now small enough to fit in the roof panels. And out the exhaust pipe: a trickle of water. This is one of three hydrogen buses added …

What the warming world needs now is art, sweet art

Shall I compare thee to climate change? Here’s the paradox: if the scientists are right, we’re living through the biggest thing that’s happened since human civilization emerged. One species, ours, has by itself in the course of a couple of generations managed to powerfully raise the temperature of an entire planet, to knock its most basic systems out of kilter. But oddly, though we know about it, we don’t know about it. It hasn’t registered in our gut; it isn’t part of our culture. Where are the books? The poems? The plays? The goddamn operas? Compare it to, say, the …

Bill McKibben sends dispatches from a conference on winning the climate-change fight

Tuesday, 25 Jan 2005 MIDDLEBURY, Vt. A crisp, cold, blue-sky New England day, fresh snow on the ground, and everything right with the world. Except that last night, as I was preparing to attend a three-day conference on climate change here in Middlebury, Vt., yet another disturbing report on global warming drifted across the net. This one comes from the International Climate Change Taskforce, co-chaired by Stephen Byers, a Tony Blair confidant from the U.K., and Olympia Snowe, the Republican senator from Maine. In one sense, it’s nothing new: yet another document from moderate world leaders calling for urgent action …

Climate change too slow for Hollywood, too fast for the rest of us

It’s always been hard to get people to take global warming seriously because it happens too slowly. Not slowly in geological terms — by century’s end, according to the consensus scientific prediction, we’ll have made the planet warmer than it’s been in tens of millions of years. But slowly in NBC Nightly News terms. From day to day, it’s hard to discern the catastrophe, so we don’t get around to really worrying. Something else — the battle for Fallujah, the presidential election, the spread of SARS, the Jacksonian mammary — is always more immediate, and evolution seems to have engineered …

The U.S. has outsourced environmental leadership

On the money. California unveiled the design on its state quarter last week: a picture of John Muir, an image of Half Dome. It’s an apt representation of American environmentalism at the moment — rich in history, but not worth much at present. Modern environmentalism can fairly be described as an American invention. It got its rhetoric from John Muir, its fighting savvy from David Brower, its sense of the world from Rachel Carson, and its institutional framework from the Congress of the Nixon years, which bowed before the loud will of the American people in the years after Earth …

Does it make sense for environmentalists to want to limit immigration?

The Sierra Club, most venerable of environmental organizations, is awash in charges, countercharges, suits, countersuits, invective, counter-invective, and double counter-invective bounces-off-me-and-sticks-to-you. At issue, depending on whom you talk to, is whether single-issue racists will take over the organization’s board or whether club democracy will be squelched by blatant interference from the group’s old guard. What’s barely discussed in the news accounts I’ve read is the substantive question behind this fracas: Does it make sense for environmentalists to want to limit immigration? Sierra Club Immigration Debate Que Sierra, Sierra Immigration controversy engulfs Sierra Club board election As it happens, this is …

Babbitt, Hawken, and other enviros throw their weight behind Dean

We’ve spent much of our lives working for environmental change — for a response to global warming, for the preservation of biodiversity, for wild places, for family farms. But this winter, we’re working for Howard Dean for president — backing him in the confident hope that his victory will mean that the deep environmental principles of the American people will finally prevail over the narrow special interests that for too long have dominated our country. Deaning America. Photo: John Pettitt, DeanForAmerica.com. It’s not that we’re against the other contenders for the Democratic nomination. Several of them have fine environmental records, …

The Bush administration lost credibility over Kyoto, and can’t get it back over Iraq

Every European poll shows enormous percentages of people who oppose the pending war on Iraq: 70 percent, 80 percent, 90 percent. That’s an extraordinary consensus; it’s rare when 70 percent of people agree about anything. Taking their anti-Bush sentiments to the streets in Prague. Photo: Punchdown.org. The consensus is all the more extraordinary because people aren’t really making an informed judgment. None of us, here or in France, are really capable of knowing with much accuracy whether the Bush administration’s argument — that Saddam Hussein represents such an immediate threat that he must be taken out — makes sense or …

Ministers help kick off new phase of anti-SUV campaign

There are more scenic places for a demonstration — the Lincoln Memorial, say, or the lawn of the Capitol. But the Lynnway, an endless stretch of dreary light industry and heavy commerce just north of Boston, was perfect for our purposes. Not because of the greyhound racing track, not because of the discount furniture outlets. Because of the auto dealers, crowded with shiny SUVs. Just married … to the pump. Photo: Alan Wagner. Every city in North America has a few of these automiles, where one lot butts up against the next, all crowded with this year’s models. These lots …

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