McKibben calls on Aspen Ideas audience to take action now
July 12, 2010
ASPEN – Bill McKibben’s campaign to save the world from climate change exhibits a stark irony: he freely admits that “I have the largest carbon footprint of anybody I know.”
McKibben was home 70 days last year; he was on the road the other 295 days. But in his view, that irony is a necessary evil. Travel is a tool in his political and environmental activism, which led to what many news organizations hailed as the largest global demonstration in the history of the world with 5,200 organized rallies in 181 countries last year.
It was coordinated through McKibben’s 350.org, an organization that looks to educate people across the globe of what he called Earth’s impending “peril” from global warming.
The groups that helped with the effort included a coalition of oil sheiks from Abu Dhabi, a testament to the urgency of the issue, according to McKibben.
The name 350.org came from a figure in a NASA study that showed the threshold of unsustainability in the carbon content of Earth’s atmosphere is 350 parts per million.
“That was a scary paper,” McKibben said, given the fact that the current carbon content of the atmosphere is nearly 390 parts per million.
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On Sunday, McKibben tried to recruit Aspenites and visitors from across the country to his cause at the Aspen Ideas Festival.
The only path back to a sustainable way of living is a politically charged campaign to dispel what he said is misinformation presented to the public by groups that benefit from the continuation of fossil fuel production and usage.
Mentioning highly polarized right-wing pundits Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, who are known for denying that global warming is caused by humanity, McKibben said: “Their arguments are based in ideology and not science.”
The latest movement McKibben is spearheading is a call to action for communities around the world to spend one day, set for Oct. 10, engaging in green activism.
“That’s 10/10/10, so no excuses for forgetting the date,” he told the Aspen crowd.
The city of Auckland, New Zealand, is planning to recruit bicycle mechanics to canvass the city that day to make sure every bicycle in the city is in good shape, McKibben said.
Though the effort focuses on a lofty goal and certainly won’t stop global warming, if enough people participate, it could have an effect, McKibben said.
“There are no silver bullets … maybe enough silver buckshot if we add it all together,” he said.
Deriding the fact that most major nations were unable to come to a consensus on how to quell the pervasive problem at the Copenhagen climate summit, he said the initiative is meant to inspire politicians to create public policy that will make carbon usage more expensive.
“We can say: ‘We’re getting to work. What about you?'” he said.