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Bill McKibben's Posts

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Are you brave enough to say no to a high-stress holiday?

The problem with Christmas is not the batteries. The problem isn't even really the stuff. The problem with Christmas is that no one much likes it anymore. Start thinking outside the cart. Photo: iStockphoto If you poll Americans this time of year, far more of them regard the approaching holidays with dread than anticipation. It has long since become too busy, too expensive, too centered around acquiring that which we do not need. In fact, it's the perfect crystallization of the American economy -- the American consumer experience squeezed into a manic week, a week that people find themselves hoping …

Read more: Living

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Students keep up momentum with a pre-election Climate Summer

A scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College, Bill McKibben is the author of The End of Nature, the first book for a general audience on climate change, and, most recently, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. He serves on Grist's board of directors. Thursday, 7 Jun 2007 LEBANON, New Hampshire If you're worried -- and who isn't? -- that the pressure for action on global warming will crest and fade after the last six months of steady growth, you should have been on the town green of this small western New Hampshire burg on Wednesday night. Twenty-five college …

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Step It Up

Monday, 8 Jan 2007 MIDDLEBURY, Vt. The most important question about global warming right now is: what do I do once I've changed the damned lightbulbs? And one small answer is Step It Up 2007. This is the first of 12 dispatches I'll write, one a week through mid-April, that will chronicle the first nationwide do-it-yourself mass protest, and by far the biggest demonstration yet against global warming. If all goes well -- and by "all going well," I mean "if you help" -- then on Saturday, April 14, we'll kick off the approach to Earth Day with hundreds upon …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Will evangelicals help save the earth?

Copyright 2006 by Bill McKibben. First published in OnEarth, a publication of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Reprinted by permission. First came the mighty winds, blowing across the Gulf with unprecedented fury, leveling cities and towns, washing away the houses built on sand. Toss in record flooding across the Northeast, and one of the warmest winters humans have known on this continent, and a prolonged and deepening drought in the desert West. For Americans, this has been the year the earth turned biblical. Pharaoh may have faced plagues and frogs and darkness; we got Katrina and Rita and Wilma. An …

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Bush’s climate plan will kick-start a new era of bargaining over the planet’s future

On your mark ... Get set ... Go? Photo: iStockphoto And so the bargaining has begun. After almost two decades of inaction, at long last America seems ready to start considering some kind of action to address global warming. With states setting conflicting standards, with the scientists announcing weekly updates on the speed and size of the approaching cataclysm, with shareholder activism starting to push business, and with green stirrings even from the evangelical wing of American Christianity, the time when the fossil-fuel lobby could get away with total obstruction may be passing. Not too quickly, mind you -- yesterday's …

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Climate change is pushing this easygoing enviro over the edge

The one and only time I ever saw my mother become aggressive in public went like this. We were out as a family for a weekend leaf-peeping drive, an impulse apparently shared by most of the rest of New England, because the traffic along New Hampshire's Kancamagus Highway was endless 90-degree gridlock. Every once in a while, however, somebody would zoom happily by in the breakdown lane. We watched them with a kind of mounting zealous anger. It would never have occurred to my parents to emulate them -- that would have been wrong. But eventually my mother, sitting in …

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Why the Montreal climate summit was too painful to watch

I've been to climate meetings in locales that stretch from Kyoto to The Hague, Mexico City to the Maldives. It would have been awfully easy to get in the old hybrid and drive two hours north to Montreal for the big climate-change confab that wrapped up this weekend -- if nothing else, it's a city I love deeply. But I couldn't bring myself to do it in the end. I knew it was going to be too painful to watch. Do U.S. see what I see? Photo: iStockphoto. Too painful because, as it has since the issue first emerged, the …

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Hurricane Katrina brings a foretaste of environmental disasters to come

If the images of skyscrapers collapsed in heaps of ash were the end of one story -- the U.S. safe on its isolated continent from the turmoil of the world -- then the picture of the sodden Superdome with its peeling roof marks the beginning of the next story, the one that will dominate our politics in the coming decades: America befuddled about how to cope with a planet suddenly turned unstable and unpredictable. Over and over last week, people said that the scenes from the convention center, the highway overpasses, and the other suddenly infamous Crescent City venues didn't …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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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 …

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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 …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living