Thoughts From Bill McKibben… From the Earth Week Kick-off

Bill McKibben Skyped with us for an hour in Torg 3100 -Last Tuesday –  it was exceptional!

Here are a few noteworthy things he discussed:

Wrote About Climate Change since… before many of us were born. The Truth? We knew what we needed to know 20 years ago. The Carbon Science.

The story of the last 20 years – is the story of how hard and how fast that it is happening.

The question is how far are we going to move?

Climate change is not a future problem – it’s a present crisis we have to take on now.

Connect the Dots” A global movement:

May 5th | with friends all over the world | BIG GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION | designed to draw attention to the urgency of Climate change

Highlighting: Consequences. Causes. Solution.

It’s more than one weather tragedy, there are multiple solutions, and we need to act fast – so we can do something about this.

We’re taking on the power of the fossil fuel industry -which is the richest industry the world has ever seen. We’re going to be taking on that industry, with battles like the Keystone XL Pipeline. We got to demonstrate the real people power. We’re never going to have enough money… so we have to make up for it in spirit, passion and creativity.

We won, temporally. But all environmental victories are temporary…

Even if we manage to block the pipeline – we’re not going to stop climate change. We have to figure out a more coherent strategy – like putting a price on carbon – to internalize the costs it puts on our atmosphere – that’s what the fossil fuel industry fears the most.

Why are subsidies such a bad idea? In education subsidies, we provide loans and grants to allow people to be smarter and wiser… and be a help to things. The reason not to pay subsidies to fossil fuel companies – (1) they are already rich – would we give subsidies and aid to already rich college students? (2) They have been doing this for 250 years now – subsidies are not going to help them get better at it. (3) We are subsiding the thing we want less of…

Politically and scientifically – lay of the land – where we are. This fight will keep intensifying. We have to keep the pressure up because we don’t have much time. We need you working hard now.

cool things:

Civil Disobedience – college students should not be the main cannon fodder – Most people who were arrested in Washington DC for keystone were born in the FDR and Truman administrations

If you’re going to get arrested, come in your Sunday best – a visual way to say “in this fight, we are not the radicals, we are asking for it to work like it has been for the last 10,000 years.” The radical ones are the coal companies and oil companies who are willing to change the chemical composition of the atmosphere just to make money.

All over the world, in every county, there are rooms full of people like the one you’re in right now – ready to solve this.

Thank you for what you’ve done. Thank you for what you’re going to do.



2 thoughts on “Thoughts From Bill McKibben… From the Earth Week Kick-off

  1. Just a couple of questions from your essay.
    1) Please identify the subsidies that you claim energy companies are receiving, the dollar amounts, and how these “subsidies” are different from deductions from income that every other American manufacturing company receives.
    2) What percent profit margin do energy companies make on average compared to Apple?
    3) Coal companies provide 50% of of the fuel for electricity in the US. What is the cost per megawatt for electricity produced from coal, what do you suggest we replace it with, and what will the cost per megawatt of the alternative be?
    4) You claim that the coal companies change the chemical composition of the atmosphere just to make money. Coal companies make money selling coal to power companies to produce electricity, which powers your mac, your i pad, your i phone, the server cloud, provides light for you to read at night. How much are you willing to pay for electricity to keep the lights on, and continue to use these modern conveniences vs supporting domestic energy production and keeping energy prices down?
    5) Without the keystone pipeline, Canada will ship its crude oil from tar sands to China on ships, which add more to the danger of environmental damage, additional carbon in the air etc, than running a pipeline. In addition, the US will be more dependent on the Middle East for crude oil. The keystone pipeline provides jobs for Americans, revenue from taxes to the US Gov., reduces the chances of environmental damage, reduces CO2 compared to ships to China, and reduces the cost of energy, reduces the chances of supply disruption because of geopolitical unrest in the middle east, and reduces the petrodollars sent to middle eastern dictatorships, and if you believe that we went to war in Iraq over oil, reduced dependence on middle east oil reduces the likelihood that the US will become involved in a middle east war over oil. What are the disadvantages of the Keystone pipeline that make not building the pipeline a better overall outcome, than the advantages just cited provide? What are the environmental problems that concern you, What is the potential magnitude of the problems in environmental degradation and in dollars? What is the cost of the environmental problems that you believe justify not building the pipeline? What would have to happen to solve these issues to your satisfaction?

    I appreciate your thoughtful response.
    Bill S

  2. One other thought worth pondering. Bill McKibben is a journalist. He is not a scientist. He is not an environmental scientist, a chemistry scientist, a geophysicist, an atmospheric scientist and has no training in the scientific method. He is a guy with an opinion, that is not backed by science. Science is not a democratic process. Scientists gather data, make a hypothesis to predict what they think will happen, run carefully constructed experiments, and compare the results of the experiments to the prediction. No model of Global warming has accurately predicted what actually occurred.

    Science is also based on replication of experiments by other scientists and getting the same results. None of the major figures in Global warming, Mann, Jones, etc will release their original underlying data, nor will they release the computer algorithms that they used to make statistical adjustments to the data. It is therefore currently impossible for a different scientist to take the data, and reproduce the results. This is not science.

    The foundation of science is doubt. Is Newton’s law of gravity accurate? It works on a macro scale, but on a micro scale its not quite right. Then we bring in quantum mechanics, and Einsteins theory of relativity. with experiments specifically designed to cause the theory of relativity to fail. It did not fail, but it still does not prove that Relativity is correct. It is just correct so far.

    Global warming should never be accepted as a basis on which to make hugely expensive policy changes, which will necessarily lower your future standard of living, until it has been proven by standard scientific methodology.

    Assume that Global Warming is occurring, and that man is the cause. The next huge leap of faith is that Global warming is a bad thing. Warmer temperatures and higher CO2 increase crop yields, decreasing hunger and starvation. Like everything else in life, everything decision requires trade offs. The key is to properly understand the risks. costs, and rewards of the available choices. in order to make good policy decisions.

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