Bill McKibben @billmckibbenInspiring to all who packed the house at the Atheneum Theater, Bill McKibben and his team of 350.org road-trippers brought their message of moral authority to Chicago. Part revival meeting, part call to arms, Mr McKibben made it clear to the approximately 1000 attendees that the time had come, that no more half-measures would suffice and that We > fossil fuels.
Chicago's #dothemath was one of my favorite evenings--a simpatico, warm feeling, and @RevYearwood to rock the house!
The event was sponsored by Chicago Area Peace Action, an organization "that exists to call out the corrupting influence of ever more wealthy & powerful weapons manufacturers, fossil fuel conglomerates, and Wall Street banks." CAPA has answered Bill's call to action and has scheduled a Climate Action Call for January 27, 2013, as a follow-up to the "Do The Math" tour. The gathering will collaborate on ways to bring the urgency of abrupt climate change to the wider public.
Climate Crisis Chicago is on-board, as well, with a Climate Crisis Mobilization on February 16, 2013. Climate Crisis Summit in Chicago will be a full-day working conference that will, in part, discuss how to build a social movement to mobilize and engage the general public in combating global warming. The conference will also do planning work for a major, large-scale event on Earth Day 2013. That's April 22nd so mark your calendars!
More on the event below the Kosquiggle.
First of all, it was pure serendipity that I was able to be at the event as tickets had been sold out for weeks and I was too late and seemingly out of luck. I had promised the amazing boatsie, though, that I would write this diary and so I took a ride down to the theater at about 3:00p thinking that at least I could get a photo of venue to share. But as I pulled up, I saw a conspicuous but unmarked tour bus in front that was being unloaded. I walked up and asked if this was the 350.org bus and a young man who turned out to be Duncan Meisel - if you get 350.org emails you'll surely recognize the name - said that it was indeed. We started talking and I told him my sob story of failing to get tickets but needing to cover the event for a Daily Kos diary. I had said the magic words. Forget "open sesame." "Daily Kos" is the new key to the kingdom. Duncan told me that if I showed up at 6p when the doors opened he would make sure I got a "press pass." And so it was. The pass turned out to be a red wristband that gave me entry and my choice of seating. Thank you, Duncan, wherever you are.
Down to business. As attendees arrived we were serenaded by a variety of music to get us in the spirit. At promptly 7p, Reverend Lennox Yearwood, President of the Hip Hop Caucus and tireless advocate for social justice spoke to us about the urgency of action. He called for a new movement that would join environmental activists, peace activists, equal rights activists and other groups dedicated to social justice together to feel the urgency of now and stand up for our planet.
Bill arrived on stage to a rousing ovation from an energized crowd. He wasted no time in pressing his message of the moral authority we have in this fight to stop the fossil fuel industry at its roots, to stop us from our headlong rush into calamity. The movement to call upon colleges and universities, states, counties and municipalities, pension funds and private investors to divest themselves of stock in dirty energy companies is the clear focus now. Bill announced that 100 college campuses have now joined in the divestment campaign.
We were treated to video presentations by Naomi Klein, National Geographic photographer and creator of Chasing Ice, James Balog, Josh Fox of Gasland fame, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace. All were clear on the message that this is the most important moral fight we have ever waged as human beings. There was even a comic interlude - a video appearance by Rex Tillerson, Chairman, President, and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation, a man who earns $100,000 and hour (!) and who somehow thinks we can just simply move our "agricultural production units" - known as farms to the rest of us - further and further north. Pity there's no soil in the tundra that would support the growing of corn, soybean, and wheat.
Bill made the message abundantly clear. The time has come for us to take a stand, to organize, to advocate and,yes, to put our butts on the line. He is calling for nothing less than mass resistance by the biggest social movement ever.
As a gray-headed elder I was particularly pleased with Bill's call for such as me to not be afraid to get arrested, if necessary. The college students of today have their role and we old farts have ours. They might want to think twice about having an arrest record on their resume. The elders - what difference would it make - what resume, anyway?
So... here's my take-aways from last night.
Divestment worked for South Africa - it can work here. It won't beSome links that might be of interest follow. Thanks for reading. Now Stand Up and Do Something! Believe me, I know how hard that is. It seems that the more I read, the more I despair. There is only one cure for that and it is ACTION.
easy, justice never comes easy, but it can and must be done. The
first step will be to push for a freeze on any new fossil fuel investments.
Presidents' Day mobilizations are being planned throughout the country.
Find one in your area and get involved!
The fossil fuel industry cheats. They don't have to clean up after
themselves. Let's see if we can make them pay the price for profiting
at our expense. They are the radicals, not us.
This is a moral fight we must wage. We are on the right side of history.
It's time to bring remember that "Power to the People" is not just an
aged, worn out slogan. It's up to us.
WE > FOSSIL FUELS