Skip to main content

My friend Bill McKibben, founder of the climate change organization, has a 25-year history of environmental writing and activism that began with his inspiring and disturbing book, The End of Nature, in 1989. It was the first of a dozen books he has written on the environment. In books and speeches the soft-spoken McKibben electrifies audiences. But he doesn't just talk the talk. He walks the walk. Even when the walk ends in zipcuffs and a police van.

Bill McKibben and Meteor Blades on Nov. 10, 2012, in Palo Alto for the Do the Math Tour.
Me, being inspired by McKibben again.
Today, in Rolling Stone magazine, where 10 months ago was published his  seminal Global Warming's Terrifying New Math, there's a new piece by McKibben, a call to demand action on climate change in New York City Sept. 20-21.
Since Ban Ki-moon runs the United Nations, he's altogether aware that we're making no progress as a planet on slowing climate change. He presided over the collapse of global-climate talks at Copenhagen in 2009, and he knows the prospects are not much better for the "next Copenhagen" in Paris in December 2015. In order to spur those talks along, he's invited the world's leaders to New York in late September for a climate summit.

But the "world's leaders" haven't been leaders on climate change – at least not leaders enough. Like many of us, they've attended to the easy stuff, but they haven't set the world on a fundamentally new course. Barack Obama is the perfect example: Sure, he's imposed new mileage standards for cars, but he's also opened vast swaths of territory to oil drilling and coal mining, which will take us past Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's biggest petro producer. [...]

In a rational world, no one would need to march. In a rational world, policymakers would have heeded scientists when they first sounded the alarm 25 years ago. But in this world, reason, having won the argument, has so far lost the fight. The fossil-fuel industry, by virtue of being perhaps the richest enterprise in human history, has been able to delay effective action, almost to the point where it's too late. [...]

So in this case taking to the streets is very much necessary. It's not all that's necessary – a sprawling fossil-fuel resistance works on a hundred fronts around the world, from putting up solar panels to forcing colleges to divest their oil stocks to electioneering for truly green candidates. And it's true that marching doesn't always work: At the onset of the war in Iraq, millions marched, to no immediate avail. But there are moments when it's been essential. This is how the Vietnam War was ended, and segregation too – or consider the nuclear-freeze campaign of the early 1980s, when half a million people gathered in New York's Central Park. The rally, and all the campaigning that led to it, set the mood for a planet—even, amazingly, in the Reagan era. By mid-decade, the conservative icon was proposing to Mikhail Gorbachev that they abolish nuclear weapons altogether.

I can hear the groans from some quarters. Another protest march? What's the point? But neither McKibben nor any other climate activist is solely focused on protest marches, just as activists across a wide array of reform movements in the past did a lot more than shake their fists. Here's McKibben in an email:
Marching doesn’t solve anything by itself. But movements can shift political power—in fact, little else ever does.

We need to show just how big and unified our movement has grown, from the environmental justice advocates fighting fossil fuel pollution in our communities to the students demanding divestment on our campuses, from the scientists who have seen their warnings so far ignored to the clergy now showing real moral leadership.

If you’re wondering how to react to the devastating news that the Antarctic is melting out of control: New York. If you’re scared like I am by the pictures of the fire and drought across the West: New York. If you’re feeling like it’s time to change the trajectory of this planet: we’ll see you in New York.

Tell Everyone.

If you're saying to yourself you can't afford to go to New York, or your boss won't give you leave to go or something else is holding you back, there's an alternative. Organizing local protests to occur at the same time as the one in New York. If 100 or 200 towns and cities held their own actions—say, at city hall or the state legislature—not only would that make it easy for tens of thousands of other Americans to participate, it would bring more media attention to the event and generate a residual momentum to advance other local actions in the future.  

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed May 21, 2014 at 09:36 AM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Bob Johnson, Pat K California, Spit, JekyllnHyde, Alumbrados, Ed in Montana, Angie in WA State, RF, Bill in Portland Maine, Mogolori, teacherken, Liberal Thinking, Christin, Gooserock, mimi, RunawayRose, alicia, Shockwave, Wintermute, cotterperson, OLinda, eeff, dsb, willyr, xynz, RFK Lives, hubcap, Creosote, TracieLynn, EricS, Wee Mama, whenwego, Agathena, ask, highacidity, chuckvw, farmerhunt, PeteZerria, thea lake, ctsteve, Iberian, navajo, high uintas, pollwatcher, kharma, Moody Loner, TXsharon, kj in missouri, texasmom, Steven Payne, betson08, kalmoth, Brian82, KayCeSF, JayDean, jcrit, Sybil Liberty, eyeball, pontechango, Gowrie Gal, kbman, Bluesee, NoMoreLies, LakeSuperior, kamarvt, basquebob, MT Spaces, juliesie, YucatanMan, Laurence Lewis, Claybow, lennysfo, bleeding blue, Sara R, where4art, aaraujo, GreyHawk, blue jersey mom, ivorybill, jane123, Sandino, WisePiper, Ginny in CO, peacestpete, mightymouse, RJDixon74135, atdnext, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, cookseytalbott, victoria2dc, AoT, KenBee, Magnifico, Lefty Coaster, MJ via Chicago, A Siegel, Crashing Vor, JVolvo, boatsie, onionjim, CA Nana, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, cherryXXX69, Statusquomustgo, bstotts, Aaa T Tudeattack, BentLiberal, One Pissed Off Liberal, FoundingFatherDAR, Polacolor, pfiore8, aravir, FishOutofWater, Mary Mike, david mizner, greenchiledem, certainot, joedemocrat, aliasalias, jayden, AnnArborDem, SeaTurtle, bobswern, jnhobbs, millwood, carpunder, CT Hank, Don midwest, Assaf, TomP, Mighty Ike, mconvente, jack 1966, Roger Fox, TX Freethinker, JaxDem, kimoconnor, wayoutinthestix, OleHippieChick, limpidglass, Fiona West, LI Mike, elwior, Cat Servant, CDH in Brooklyn, KJG52, VL Baker, jamess, TokenLiberal, temptxan, codairem, petulans, Cobbler, slathe, toom, SolarMom, forgore, bluebelle7, pileta, weaponsofmassdeception, Bill McKibben, greengemini, LinSea, dharmasyd, CanyonWren, mkor7, dskoe, asym, Denise Oliver Velez, metro50, moviemeister76, jpmassar, citisven, Words In Action, smileycreek, rb137, The Jester, cordgrass, gulfgal98, samanthab, Lady Libertine, paradise50, cai, Betty Pinson, orlbucfan, ericlewis0, science nerd, soaglow, newusername, no way lack of brain, Pakalolo, Onomastic, FarWestGirl, deeproots, smiley7, Lorikeet, badscience, thomask, Attack Gardener, worldlotus, enhydra lutris, Frameshift, Marihilda, SoCalSal, SteelerGrrl, DRo, Regina in a Sears Kit House, SouthernLiberalinMD, jaebone, PrometheusUnbound, Laurel in CA, YaNevaNo, quill, Pinto Pony, ridemybike, bluezen, angry marmot, greenbastard, rexxnyc, Eric Nelson, AnnieR, 2thanks, martinjedlicka, peachcreek, belinda ridgewood, New Minas, Glen The Plumber, George3, AZ Sphinx Moth, James Wells, peptabysmal, Robynhood too, ShoshannaD, bisleybum, Lily O Lady, nomandates, John Crapper, countwebb, remembrance, goodpractice, 3rock, HedwigKos, Smoh, Hundred Acre Wood, Patango, LilithGardener, dsteve01, CenPhx, julesrules39, richardvjohnson, jbsoul, lehman scott

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site