[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]
Host, Josh Nelson:
Bill McKibben is one of the most effective and widely-respected writers on environmental issues today. Starting with The End of Nature in 1989, he’s written and published a long line of powerful works that make complex environmental issues accessible to a general audience.
In recent years McKibben has taken a more active role by organizing and inspiring people across the planet to work toward addressing global warming. In 2007 he founded Step it Up, which organized hundreds of rallies throughout the United States demanding that Congress take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In 2008 Bill co-founded 350.org, a global grassroots campaign that has since ignited a spark in the international and domestic environmental movements.
Here are just a few of the events 350.org has organized:
· October 2009: More than 5,000 events in 180 countries in advance of the global climate change talks in Copenhagen.
· October 2010: A massive global work party.
· September 2011: More than 2,000 Moving Planet events in 175 countries dedicated to moving the planet beyond fossil fuels.
McKibben recently led a massive two week civil disobedience campaign at the White House; and on November 6th, exactly one year before the election, he and thousands of other people will be encircling the White House to ask President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
In The Global Warming Reader, Bill has compiled some of the most important writing that has ever been published on climate change. Each piece in the compilation is preceded by a concise summary from Bill that puts it in context and explains exactly why it matters.
The book is divided into three sections: science, politics and impact.
In the science section, you’ll read everything from the history of climate science as it developed to the connection to the Pakistani floods and Russian heat wave. You’ll hear from folks like Svante Arrhenius, who was writing about the greenhouse effect in 1896, a full 115 years ago. You’ll read work by NASA climate scientist James Hansen, whose work inspired the concept and name behind McKibben’s 350.org.
In the politics section, you’ll read about the political challenges associated with taking on the problem of climate change. You’ll hear from Al Gore, Ross Gelbspan, Van Jones, Naomi Klein, Mike Tidwell and others who have been at the forefront of this fight. You’ll also hear from Mohamed Nasheed, president of the Maldives, a nation of tiny islands that is perhaps the most vulnerable in the world to climate impacts.
In the impact section, you’ll read about the impacts of climate change – both those we’re already experiencing and those we’ll see in the future. You’ll hear from evangelical religious leaders and national security experts, and you’ll learn about the devastation climate change is causing, on our farms and in our oceans, throughout the planet.
The Global Warming Reader offers something for all readers. If you’re relatively new to the topic and want to know more about this phenomenon that is wrecking the planet, the Global Warming Reader is the perfect place to start. If you’re well read on the subject you’ll enjoy Bill’s introductions to the pieces and surely be re-introduced to great writing you haven’t read in years.
In Bill’s conclusion to the book’s introduction, he frames the challenge humanity faces in the clearest terms possible:
“If we could feel in our bones just exactly what it is that’s happening – if we really understood that the decisions we make in the next Congress or Parliament or Politburo will determine what happens for essentially the entire human future – we could maybe spur ourselves to action. That’s a difficult conceptual leap; our genes haven’t really equipped us for thinking on this scale. So this will be like an exam, and maybe a final exam, for how well our culture has readied us to see beyond those instincts. Yes, we need new wind turbines and solar panels. But really, most of all, we need new metaphors. And we have very little time to find them.”
The implied question, which many of us are grappling with, is whether or not we’ll rise to the challenge.
Please join me in welcoming Bill McKibben to Firedoglake for a discussion of his new book, The Global Warming Reader.
Josh Nelson is a campaign manager at CREDO Action, where he works on local coal campaigns.