Welcome Bill McKibben (350.org) and Host, Josh Nelson (EnviroKnow.com).

[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]

The Global Warming Reader

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.

152 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Bill McKibben, The Global Warming Reader”

BevW October 15th, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Bill, Welcome back to the Lake.

Josh, Thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Hey everyone. Feels a bit odd to be typing while so many marching in nyc, madrid, london, etc–but good to be doing something constructive anyway, to help out

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:01 pm

meanwhile, think a bit about our friends in thailand today, suffering the worst flooding in a very long time, maybe ever. it’s been a flooding kind of year, even in my home state of vermont

Josh Nelson October 15th, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Thanks for joining us, Bill. Let’s go ahead and get started.

Which section of the book did you enjoy working on the most?

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:02 pm
In response to Josh Nelson @ 4

i actually enjoyed rereading a lot of the early science, which i hadn;t looked at in a long time. it was a reminder that this is both a complex scientific problem and, at its base, fairly straightforward

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:03 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 5

we knew a long itme ago that carbon trapped heat, and tht buring fossil fuel gave off carbon. in a sense, everything else turns out to be commentary

Josh Nelson October 15th, 2011 at 2:04 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 5

That’s a good way of putting it.

I also found the first section fascinating. I had read a few of those pieces but there were several I hadn’t seen.

Can you tell us about the event you’re planning for November 6th?

Cynthia Kouril October 15th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Welcome to the Lake where the water is always warm, regardless of the size of the ozone hole.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Yep. first of all, many thanks to our friends at credo, also at fdl, for their great work on the tarsands pipeline. this is a followup to our mass civil disobedience in late august,w hich saw 1253 arrests, including on day 1 jane h and scarecrow john

now were going back to the wh, this time not illegally, but to encircle it in people exactly ne year befor ethe election. we’ll be carrying banners with quotes form obama in 2008: ‘time to end the tyranny of oil’ etc. we want to show him it’s time to actually fulfill some promises, especially in a case like t he keystone pipeline when congress is not in the way

Peterr October 15th, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Welcome, Bill!

I’ve been bouncing around reading different parts of GWR. When I first picked it up, I was struck by your inclusion of James Imhofe. Huh? But then I turned to your introduction to his speech, where you wrote “. . . it’s important to record the lines of attack climate deniers have used over and over.”

Indeed.

With an anthology like this, there were lots of things you *could* have included, but needed to leave out. Were there any items left on the editor’s floor that you’d like to mention?

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:08 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 9

we’re anticipating a good crowd in dc, not clear how many folks it takes to circle the white house, i guess we’ll find out

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:09 pm
In response to Peterr @ 10

i wish there’d been room for more intl voices–at 350.org we’ve built a climate movement tht works in 189 countries, and lots of them have very eloquent spokespeople

Josh Nelson October 15th, 2011 at 2:09 pm
In response to Peterr @ 10

You mentioned the Occupy Wall Street events happening globally today.

Any thoughts on those that you’d like to share today?

Josh Nelson October 15th, 2011 at 2:11 pm

“i wish there’d been room for more intl voices–at 350.org we’ve built a climate movement tht works in 189 countries, and lots of them have very eloquent spokespeople.”

I was glad to see Mohamed Nasheed included.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:11 pm
In response to Josh Nelson @ 13

it’s been a very happy few weeks wathcing people raise their voices. when i was down ata ows and got to give a talk, my main theme was: about time. Wall street has been occupying out atmosphere for decades; about time we returned the favor.

spocko October 15th, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Welcome Bill:

In the politics section, you’ll read about the political challenges associated with taking on the problem of climate change.

Haven’t read the book, but I’d like to know if you have strategies to expose, question and beat back the climate change deniers?

Specifically in SF there is a right wing talk radio host Brian S ussman
Who has written a book titled C limategate. He is a former weather man and uses his right wing ‘credentials” to get on Fox.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:13 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 15

the pipeline fight has given me my clearest window ever into corporate dominance of our politics. watching the state dept. let transcanada pipeline pick a company to review their project, and letting them choose entrix, which lists transcanada as a “major client,” made it clear that this was as po9litically filthy as it was environmentally. i couldn’t agree more with the ows folks nd am eager to get back there. in fact, going to occupyboston next week

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:14 pm
In response to spocko @ 16

well, there are lots of good voices working on discrediting. check out, for instanc,e desmogblog. but mother nature also doing her part. even in rick perry’s texas there are more folks starting to think for themselves, a year into the worst drought ever

ThingsComeUndone October 15th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

What do you think of boycotts the threat seems to have gotten the CEO of Whole Foods thrown out although he still owns the company, they got Glen Beck off the air, Lou Dobbs how can we boycott and who can we boycott?
Has anybody thought of getting all the Lefty political blogs together with the unions and decide who to boycott and just hammer the message?

Lorraine Watkins October 15th, 2011 at 2:15 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 6

Yes, just as we knew lead poisoned children but lied and added it to our gasoline for 40yr+-, that asbestos kills and lied to the workers now dying, that smoking tobacco kills and still can’t find the will to outlaw it, that ionizing irradiation maims and kills and we lie and change “normal background values.” and the beat goes on. That is why I find little reason for optimism for saving the planet as a place friendly to most animate physiology, It is sad but truth remains determined by the story tellers and the hopeful credulous.

Thanks for using your great knowledge of the science and talent for telling the true stories as tirelessly as you do.

Josh Nelson October 15th, 2011 at 2:16 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 9

Folks can learn more about the November 6th Tar Sands Action in DC here: http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/2133/p/salsa/web/common/public/signup?signup_page_KEY=6006

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:17 pm

we think about boycotts a good deal. the problem with oil companies is, they are so big that it is hard to make a dent that way. we can try and figure out how to damage their brands, however, and that work is ongoing. rainforest action network, greenpeace, etc, are especially good

we’ve also got a good boycott of the us chamber of commerce underway. (biggest funder of climate denying candidates). a number of big companies have left them in the last year, from apple to (last week) yahoo

Peterr October 15th, 2011 at 2:17 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 11

From Mike Tidwell’s essay in GWR:

So join me: put off the attic insulation job until January. Stop searching online for recycled gift-wrapping paper and sustainably farmed Christmas trees. Go beyond green dads for a month, and instead help make green history.

That sounds like it could have been written for your upcoming event.

Mike’s point is that it will take grand political action rather than green gestures to truly make a difference, and the Tar Sands protests clearly fits that bill.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:18 pm
In response to TalkingStick @ 20

i agree, the odds are not especially good. but as this year of uprising has shown, things can change, and somtimes fast!

ThingsComeUndone October 15th, 2011 at 2:18 pm

We need some way to so for damages to shut up the Global Warming deniers, big oil, big coal etc spends tons of money promoting lies can’t we get a lawsuit from people who are victims of global warming and start sueing the Koch brothers for everything they own since their lies influence public opinion and their cash buys politicians who let the pollution continue?
Sue them in England they have very strong laws about lying there.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:19 pm
In response to Peterr @ 23

yeah. the things we do in our lives are very important, but they;re like calisthenics before running the race of politics.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:19 pm

there are all kinds of interesting legal strategies evolving. the nation of palau this week announced it will be suing via the intl. court of justice

ThingsComeUndone October 15th, 2011 at 2:21 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 22

Pick one oil company BP after the Gulf oil spill is a good candidate then pour on the public pressure punish one teach a thousand.
Or just wait for the next big oil spill its only a matter of time the thing is we need a plan, we need to be organized and we need everyone on board when it happens.

arob October 15th, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Bill thanks so much for organizing the protest at the White House. I think that together with Friends of the Earth’s investigative work uncovering the State Dept’s blatant pandering to Transcanada we’re a hell of a lot closer to stopping this pipeline than we were a few months ago. Knowing this White House I’m still skeptical, but you and the brave protestors have given a lot of us some hope, for democracy as well as the environmental movement.

Could you comment on what FOE-US has uncovered?

Also, I think I read in the Post that it seems that the White House is getting more involved. Do you feel that it is getting more involved in response to the media coverage you and FOE have fomented? Does that give you optimism considering Obama’s weak environmental and broader regulatory record and the power that corporatists like Bill Daley currently hold in the administration?

Scarecrow October 15th, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Welcome Bill and Josh. What kind of turnout are you expecting for the White House encirclement. looks like an exorcism to me, so I wonder if we should invite that nice lady from the Exorcist.

ThingsComeUndone October 15th, 2011 at 2:22 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 27

I don’t suppose they are suing the Koch brothers, BP etc directly?

spocko October 15th, 2011 at 2:23 pm

ThingsComeUndone.
I would like to make a correction on Glen Beck getting thrown off of Fox, since I was part of it. It was an advertiser alert. We contacted the advertiser and said, “Does the race baiting and other nonsense is saying fit with your brand? If not, please consider stopping sponsorship.”

We knew that they had segmented their audience enough where they knew they were selling to loyalists and that if we did a traditional boycott it would be hard for them to know and connect to Glenn Beck. We let them decide to un sponsor based on their own stated values (which we got from their websites.)

Then, after the was successful. we contacted NewsCorp (via financial conference call) and pointed out to investors that Beck wasn’t generating revenue for them.
http://my.firedoglake.com/spocko/2010/05/12/rupert-and-me-i-question-the-newscorp-ceo-about-subsidizing-glenn-beck-5/
That gave them a reason to fire Beck. They had to fire him or explain why they were subsidizing him and for how long.

Lorraine Watkins October 15th, 2011 at 2:23 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 22

The commercials the oil companies are running continuously are so well done and just an example of the power of money to buy opinion and the talent it takes to influence it. They have been at it for many many years. Our side simply must work to uncover them. I personally agree boycotts won’t work. We have to dismantle their credibility.

I do see people betrayed by politics and business now not as unquestioning. So I am having some cautious optimism in my small corner of the world.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:23 pm
In response to arob @ 29

FOE has done an amazing job. they’ve really done the work to show that the state dept process was rigged. i confess i was shocked; i’m not sure even dick cheney was this blatant. as to the white house, i think tye’ll ultimately make a politicla calculation. it’s one reason we’ve been making lots of mass ‘visits’ to ofa offices around the country. message: live up to 2008′s promises before you start asking for another turn.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:24 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 30

hey brother

i think it will take 5k anyhow to circle the white house. see you there!

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:24 pm
In response to TalkingStick @ 33

amen. citizens united really loaded the dice completely. but still we fight–it’s why we had to use our bodies as a kind of currency to ante into the game, i think

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:25 pm
In response to spocko @ 32

this was a brilliant campaign!

Lorraine Watkins October 15th, 2011 at 2:26 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 24

I hope by studying that history we can find better ways to introduce reason. I compliment you for your skill at finding those ways. Just giving a lecture in science in response is not good enough.

Scarecrow October 15th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Bill, when FDL covered the Harvard protest for the WH official, I asked the group how many had worked for O in 2008 . . . It was about 25 of the 40 or so. And how many would do so again if he approves the Pipeline? Only 5 people raised their hands. Are you also seeing that dramatic change across the country responding to this issue? And how have your own views evolved over the last few months . . E.g., your last editorial or email to supporters seemed to have moved a lot since before the WH arrests.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:29 pm
In response to TalkingStick @ 38

yep. with climate, you have to be able to talk a bit about the science, but it needn’t be intimidating. basic message: we’re heating up the planet, as 98% of scientists agree. we don’t need to be–there’s enough demonstrations by now that solar and wind actually work. so, let’s get to it, and in the process put a bunch of people to work. the only blockage: the fossil fuel industry isn’t willing to let go of their sweetheart deal, where they get to use the atmosphere as an open sewer for free. so we need our political system to put a stop to that, which in turn requires building a movment

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:31 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 39

i think the nature of this stuff is that people become more militant as they engage and learn. the good news is that we’re reaching lots of people who are new to this kind of stuff. i gave seven or 8 speeches this week, and the part that people love is the idea of surrounding the white house with obama’s words. they understand immediately why it’s more powerful than simply attacking him. we’re paying him the dangerous compliment of taking him seriously, and if he disappoints us on that score than i imagine there will be a lot of disillusionment. that’s just human nature, which is almost as predictable as the chemistry of carbon

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:32 pm

can i just say–an unbelievably beautiful fall evening in vermont

Peterr October 15th, 2011 at 2:32 pm
In response to spocko @ 16

Here in KC, Gary Lezak, my favorite local TV meteorologist, did a news-style segment last February, laying out some of the basic facts of global warming. The segment (text and video) is here.

The local alternative weekly, The Pitch, noted that one of the forecasters of another station is a climate change denier, and thought that one of Gary Lezak’s lines was aimed at this guy:

Lezak took a small dig at Thompson during his segment on Monday, noting that it is “mostly politicians and non-scientists” who scoff at the idea that our tailpipes and smokestacks are bending temperature curves.

Non-scientist! Snap!

Spocko, getting other weather folks to call out the denier is right up your alley.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:34 pm
In response to Peterr @ 43

that’s good. heidi cullen, formerly of the weather channel, has been particularly brave

Scarecrow October 15th, 2011 at 2:34 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 40

Seems to me the open sewer for free argument dovetails nicely with the Occupy efforts, part of which are driven by the notion, now widely accepted, that the financial guys got to destroy the economy and don’t have to pay a price. The carbon energy industry is getting away with the same thing . . . And I think you made that point at Occupy Wall Street?

Josh Nelson October 15th, 2011 at 2:36 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 41

If Obama does ultimately end up deciding on Keystone XL based on the politics, I just don’t see the upside in approving it. While approving it depress enthusiasm in his base, it isn’t as if the oil industry or Republicans are going to suddenly support him or vote for him.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:36 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 45

indeed. in impact terms, ripping off the climate has probably been the greatest corporate crime of all–its effect will be felt in geologic time. and so unnecessary. if we hadn’t been concerned about maintaining fossil fuel profits, we would have made the switch by now

ThingsComeUndone October 15th, 2011 at 2:37 pm
In response to spocko @ 32

Thanks Spocko your tactics are great my facts were a bit off still can we use those tactics along with a consumer boycott to nail these guys.
Also remember when McDonalds sued those food activists in English court and lost? I am sure right wing think tanks get their lies published in England all the time in Fox’s papers there.
Why can’t we go after them in English court I would love to see Rupert and friends defend anti global warming science like McD’s had to defend fast food in court.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:37 pm
In response to Josh Nelson @ 46

that’s what it seems like to me too, but by that measure there’s so much that obama’s done that’s ahrd to explain

freeman October 15th, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Late as always !

Hi from Washington state .

In my mind all issues actually pale in comparison to the one of climate change and the ecology .While the wall street occupations supply some much needed hop, I contend that they are the beginnings of the only possible strategy for combating this issue .

The legislative/ electoral process is broken and as America is the guilty party in terms of pollution , consumption and road blocking international agreements on limiting green hose gasses I believe this is the front line .

What do you think our chances are , for instance , in averting, what UN scientists have warned as a mass extinction event in the worlds oceans unseen in human history within twenty years for instance ?

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:38 pm

ironically, deniers sued ‘an inconvenient truth’ in british courts

arob October 15th, 2011 at 2:38 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 34

I agree, politics trumps principle with Obama. But isn’t the problem for us that they can just rely on environmentalists and the left more broadly to just suck it up and vote for Obama in fear of whatever far-right Republican candidate emerges from the primary? I get the feeling they’re thinking, “who needs those sucker progressives to knock on doors for GOTV? We’ll just use our $1 billion war chest to buy ads that scare the crap out of moderates as well as progressives with the specter of RomneyPerryCainBachmann.” Even if they’re objectively wrong on that being a successful strategy, I get the feeling that’s the direction in which they’re heading.

In essence what I am saying is this: considering the smog decision, ongoing MTR, expanded Powder River coal mining, wolf de-listing, no climate legislation or regulation under the Clean Air Act, and now with the pipeline on the horizon, isn’t it time to threaten to withhold our votes (or give them to the Green Party) as well as our volunteer time? Seems to me that would change their political calculus more.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:39 pm
In response to freeman @ 50

i think it’s too late to stop global warming, but i don’t think it’s too late to limit it. we won’t actually ever know the thresholds till we’re well past them, given the lag times involved, so there’s some chance we’re already too late–but the best science says we still have a small window, albeit closing rapidly

ThingsComeUndone October 15th, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Just who is financing the pipeline from the oil sands and who is expected to buy their oil? Can we link them to people who fund right wing think tanks that lie about global warming and who have they given money too?
I expect O got 30 pieces of silver.

Lorraine Watkins October 15th, 2011 at 2:39 pm
In response to Josh Nelson @ 46

How often has Obama done the wise thing in his negotiations and actions? Wish I could believe he would change for this issue.

ThingsComeUndone October 15th, 2011 at 2:40 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 51

They lost I presume?

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:40 pm
In response to arob @ 52

sure. i think it’s pretty well implicit in everything we’re talking about. but i imagine they worry less about ur votes than about ur support. that is, the real fear is that they;ll be running a campaign without any enthusiasts at all.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

not surprisingly the koch bros are big players. so is almsot evryone else in the oil-and-gas world. the alberta tarsands are the second largest pool of carbon on earth, so all pigs to the trough!

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

more or less

Tammany Tiger October 15th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Whenever I see an article about climate in the online media (including publications like the Guardian), it is invariably followed a rash of comments by deniers repeating the usual right-wing talking points. Who, if anyone, is recruiting and paying these commenters?

wbgonne October 15th, 2011 at 2:44 pm

bill, thanks for all your work

i have said that the tar sands pipeline will be approved but it will never operate

i believe that when obama approves the tsp the civil resistance in the u.s will explode

i see this as a tipping point, so to speak, politically

what do you think?

Scarecrow October 15th, 2011 at 2:44 pm

I see a number of Dem Congress critters are starting to sign letters opposing the Pipeline, but not many. Do yu thnk that effort has much traction? Who is pushing it?

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:44 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 60

that’s a good question, and there’s actually been some work to indicate tht it’s professionals. and maybe not many of them. the chamber of commerce was caught last year dickering with a washingotn company who was promising to provide guys who could run 20 identities off different thumb drives etc for this purpose. there is a certain…uniformity to their rants

maa8722 October 15th, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Thanks for being here today, Bill.

What do you think will be the consequences of the nuclear disaster in Japan, and likely an urgent and widespread drawdown in nuclear power in several countries?

Germany seems to be acting quickly, i.e., relative to its ability to avoid a massive spike in carbon based fuel usage over the next decade. Now France is also getting leery of the nukes.

How much of the resulting nuke drawdown will be able to be covered by green alternatives and how quickly can green ramp up to avoid a reinforced dependence on carbon?

EdwardTeller October 15th, 2011 at 2:45 pm

This is a book salon I’d love to participate in from beginning to end. But I have to drive 75 miles to a friend’s daughter’s wedding. So one comment will have to suffice:

Mr. McKibben, I can’t thank you enough for what you do. I’m on the board of a non-profit based in Palmer, Alaska. Right now our big battle is stopping a very large open-pit coal mine that – if approved and put into operation – will be 3.8 miles upwind from my house, in a very, very windy area, the throat of the Matanuska River valley. Whenever I feel disheartened at fighting the bit of the BORG this mining company represents, I think of all that you have done and are doing.

It gets me back out there.

Your speech last week at Shumaker College in Devon was an understated masterpiece. For readers of this book salon who have not seen the speech yet, I’ve posted it at my blog.

Hope to see you in Alaska soon!

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:45 pm
In response to wbgonne @ 61

i gotta say, my crystal ball sucks. right now we’re working hard to see if we can stop it before it starts–but if that fails i imagine you’re prescient!

Lorraine Watkins October 15th, 2011 at 2:45 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 45

I think also much could be made of the fact that these natural resources are basically just turned over to small groups of people to plunder.

The coal, oil and gas magnates didn’t get rich from brilliant minds, hard work and sacrifice. Nor the railroad barons of the 19th/20th century. They were given or virtually given vast expanses of land. etc. Those plundering the minerals even learned that they didn’t even have to buy all the land at cheap rates, just the mineral rights.

The meek shall inherit the Earth, but not its mineral rights.

–Jean Paul Getty

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:46 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 62

it’s a funny issue. the dems don’t want to cross hilary/obama, who would clearly like this pipeline. the gop doewsn’t want to cross the koch bros et al, who want it too. that leaves, as per usual, bernie sanders, who has been completely great. thanks also to earl blumeanuer, peter welch, pat leahy, ron wyden, and a handful of others

freeman October 15th, 2011 at 2:46 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 53

It occurs to me that until things such as climate change reach a point that Americans can no longer find vegetables in their supermarkets that they can afford to buy we will see nothing but small tweaks to a lifestyle which is essentially destroying the planet.

How many know or care presently that you can sail from the east coast or europe without using the panama canal or that glacier national park will be devoid of glaciers in as little as ten years ?

A UN’s study contends that 1/3 of humanity will be facing severe water shortages within the next 100 years , why is it it seems it will take 99 of them to get anyones attention ?

How many cities west of the rockies get the majority of thier water from glaciers ?

Kathryn in MA October 15th, 2011 at 2:47 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 42

Hello, Bill,
Not too shabby here in Mass.
I’m hearing amazing stories out of Vermont from my son, like the repairing of washed out roads – if anyone had an excavator, he got out there and started moving rocks for fill. I thought those roads opened more quickly than one would imagine.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:47 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 65

can’t wait to get to AK, and thanks so much for your hard work!

wbgonne October 15th, 2011 at 2:48 pm

bill, any efforts to coordinate or collaborate with the occupy movement?

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:48 pm
In response to Kathryn in MA @ 70

people did a great job patching. but it will be years before we’re back to normal, barring no more storms in the meantime.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:48 pm
In response to freeman @ 69

the first sufferers along these lines are in the andes, where glaciears have dried right up, and cities are in big trouble. la paz etc don;t have too many options…

freeman October 15th, 2011 at 2:50 pm

I believe that the civil disobedience we are now witnessing is our one single hope of limiting the scope of the catastropy. Do you agree ?

If so , the only thing really left to talk about is how to proceed in making it grow teeth , IMO .

freeman October 15th, 2011 at 2:51 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 74

I have friends in Santiago that won’t be too happy to hear that .

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:51 pm
In response to wbgonne @ 72

sure. 350 has been pitching in at occupy wall street and elsewhere. i had the great pleasure of getting to go down and talk. greenpeace ahs been providing the solar power for zuccotti park, etc!

wbgonne October 15th, 2011 at 2:52 pm
In response to freeman @ 69

also, don’t you get frustrated trying to convince people that something so important is, you know, important?

(last question from me, thanks again for your work)

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:52 pm
In response to freeman @ 75

civil disobedience is a great help–and you can’t use it every time. it’s a tool in the kit, and when you need it, there’s none better. but constant use tends to dull it some

Scarecrow October 15th, 2011 at 2:53 pm

The Wash Post had an editorial recently, arguing, essentially, that resistance is futile . . . Because if we don’t take the oil, the Chinese will, or something. But I always thought the point was not to stop the pipeline just to divert the oil elsewhere but to avoid the commitment and addiction to that carbon, implying the other half of the argument is, invest in a different future. And that works on the jobs issue, too, because it’s not jobs versus environment, I.e., no project, it’s dirty jobs versus clean jobs. do you try to make this argument, and does it work?

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:54 pm
In response to wbgonne @ 79

well, on occasion. but look, this is the toughest challenge humans have ever come up agaisnt, and some denial and defensiveness are to be expected. i onhly really get pissed at the fossil fuel indsutry, which knows better. they are the greatest radaicals in t he planet’s history–willing to alter the chemical composition of the atmosphere to make some money. it’s like the plot of some bond film

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:55 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 81

we try to make it, and it does work, though not with the post or other pillars of the establishment. look, we’re only buying time if we block the pipeline, given ten years the canaqdians will figure ut anothe rroute. but if we haven’t come to ur senses a s world in ten years about cliamte change, it probably won’t matter that much anyhow. so it could be very precious time we’re buying

Josh Nelson October 15th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Great conversation so far. Please keep the questions coming!

Lorraine Watkins October 15th, 2011 at 2:57 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 82

Their whole philosophy is plunder and move on. They are so immersed in their own narcissism they believe immense wealth will permit them to survive. They don’t see the die off as any great loss. — They know the science but are crazy.

Josh Nelson October 15th, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Bill, other than being there and participating, is there anything else people can do right now to help with the November 6th event?

freeman October 15th, 2011 at 2:58 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 81

Excuse my cut and pasting:

Look at this graph and be afraid. It does not come from Earth First. It does not come from the Sierra Club. It was not drawn by Socialists or Nazis or Osama Bin Laden or anyone from Goldman-Sachs. If you are a Republican Tea-Partier, rest assured it does not come from a progressive Democrat. And vice versa. It was drawn by the United States Department of Energy, and the United States military’s Joint Forces Command concurs with the overall picture.

What does it imply? The supply of the world’s most essential energy source is going off a cliff. Not in the distant future, but in a year and a half. Production of all liquid fuels, including oil, will drop within 20 years to half what it is today. And the difference needs to be made up with “unidentified projects,” which one of the world’s leading petroleum geologists says is just a “euphemism for rank shortage,” and the world’s foremost oil industry banker says is “faith based.”

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article25306.htm

the guardian has run similar articles.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 2:59 pm
In response to Josh Nelson @ 86

spreading the word–go to tarsandsaction.org for specific assignments.
and in your communities, organizing to visit ofa offices. this is actually kind of fun, and the chances are verty low that you’ll get arrested

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 3:00 pm
In response to TalkingStick @ 85

their problem is, they’ve now managed to plunder the one, indivisible atmosphere. so unless they’ve got the rocket ship revved up, the ‘move on’ option isn’t going to work quite as well any more

wbgonne October 15th, 2011 at 3:01 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 83

yes, the problem is illustrated by the assumption that we are going to burn the tar sands oil sooner or later

obama has not only not opened space on new energy, it seems the thinking has actually shifted in the wrong direction

how bad do you think prez romney would be?

spocko October 15th, 2011 at 3:01 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 63

Yes, good memory. I’m friends with one of the guys who busted HBGary.

Here is a specific something that that you might want to advise all the people who are getting those rants.

Assign someone to track those posts using access to IP logs. Usually they provide a lot of information about who they are in every post. If you don’t have the IP info you can look at the way they use similar key phrases. With this information in hand you can then determine who they are using ARIN https://www.arin.net/ and whois

Then you figure out if they should be doing this officially and who is paying them.. So for example I taught this technique to a group I consult for http://levees.org/ They found that a bunch of critical posts were coming from the Army Corp of Engineers. This is was an action that was not sanctioned by the Corp of Engineers (officially). They were busted by us and someone was fired and the PR agency was put on notice for using these tactics.

I always like to figure out what leverage you can use against people after you expose them, this is one way to do it.

freeman October 15th, 2011 at 3:03 pm
In response to wbgonne @ 79

I’m thinking your question was probably for Bill but Casandra probably has something to say about it.

Now it’s off to eat honey and locusts .

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 3:04 pm
In response to wbgonne @ 90

probably pretty bad. we’re really running out of 4-year terms to get this right.

Josh Nelson October 15th, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Have you been following the Republican race, Bill? I had hoped that Huntsman would have attracted the support of some remaining reality-based folks in the Republican party, but that doesn’t seem to be happening.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 3:05 pm
In response to spocko @ 91

fascinating! i hope someone does figure out who is behind those endless newspaper comments. there can’t be that many bored misanthropes sitting around all day spouting the same party line

Kathryn in MA October 15th, 2011 at 3:05 pm

I’m part of starting a Transition Town (get local!) here, and part of the training is grief counseling – no one wants to give up that explosive power. We’re encouraging everyone to locally source their food – go to the source and get it, or your local farmers market.
Also, I’m installing a masonry (soapstone) heater – for once, i’ll be warm in the winter here. But, damn! wood isn’t easy – stacking and splitting is different than sitting in a cubicle!

Scarecrow October 15th, 2011 at 3:07 pm

What spurred you to put together the reader? Whom were you hoping to reach? Or counter?

wbgonne October 15th, 2011 at 3:08 pm

bill, if you’re at occupyboston this week maybe i’ll get a chance to say hi

later

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 3:08 pm
In response to Kathryn in MA @ 96

you’ll get used to wood before long–heats you when you split and when you burn it

was in totnes, uk to give a talk at the hq of transition last week–as always, so good to see rob hopkins and crew. and as usual, we agreed: you need to be taking action in local communities, and you also need to be working on natl/global politics. because if we let the climate keep warming, it won’t matter how good your local organic food system is. check out the wrecked farms in vermont in the wake of this year’s flooding!

that’s why so many transition towns also involved in 350.org!

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 3:09 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 97

i jsut thought there was a need for a basic easy-to-use info source–anmd i confess, i really like having all the primary documents close to hand for my own use.

freeman October 15th, 2011 at 3:09 pm
In response to wbgonne @ 90

Seems to me this must be solved along with every other serious problem confronting us , outside the electoral process.

Removing money from politics would be an invaluable first step , but we will never accomplish that by merely symbolic protests now matter how big.

Violence is also not a viable option for many reasons.

I contend that non cooperation en mass is , if it becomes more confrontational to the machinery of finance and industry .

Kathryn in MA October 15th, 2011 at 3:13 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 99

We posted to our website an interview of a couple from here who were in DC, getting arrested in the Keystone XL pipeline action, as a matter of fact!

spocko October 15th, 2011 at 3:13 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 95

The newspaper that they were posting in, NOLA, knew it was happening. They had the IP logs showing the posts and ranks were from USACE. But it wasn’t until the editor was laid off could we get access to that info. We got an affidavit from the editor to tell what he saw along with the IP logs.

We used this in a campaign to the USACE to stop the practice. Of course they spun it as “he was doing it on his own time” bs, but it was clear that it was a task he was assigned to do for hours at a time. They had to save face by also saying he was the only one. I wish that I could have contacted him to tell him to rat out his bosses who told him to do it. That would have lead to more firing at higher levels.

Any group that you work with can implement this strategy. As long as they have access to their own IP logs for posts. Now of course they will get smarter and use IP spoofing and other tricks, but not all are so smart. And if you do find some stay at home misanthropes it might be nice to find out what their story is, it might be a useful tactic to bring them in and ask them to talk to you, not to convert them, but to understand them and who they work with and think they are influencing and why.
(edited for subject word agreement)

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 3:13 pm
In response to freeman @ 101

yep, and there’s a lot to learn about how to do it. ows is a fascinating laboratory, and already throwing off great inventions–for isntance, the human microphone. must be experienced to be believed!

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 3:14 pm
In response to Kathryn in MA @ 102

those testimonies are amazingly powerful. people listen if you’re willing to go get arrested about something

Josh Nelson October 15th, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Did you have a chance to watch any of Al Gore’s 24 hour webcast last month? If so, what did you think?

Kathryn in MA October 15th, 2011 at 3:16 pm
In response to freeman @ 101

Non-cooperation en mass – Simply do not give your money to the banks or corporations. Don’t charge anything. Use public transportation… That’s how you vote every day.

Scarecrow October 15th, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Back in my days at the California Energy Commission, the most fun and the most opposition came from working on the efficiency standards for buildings and appliances. We always got sued, almost got abolished by the legislature, always had our funding threatened after each three year round of new standards. But in the long run, those efforts turned out to be the best things we did, though we pushed a lot of money to solar and wind and other techs.

A lot of the focus today is on the supply side, more solar, more wind, etc, but the real progress from the 1980 period on was reducing the demand, which reduced the size of the problem you have to solve on the supply side when you try to displace coal for electricity or oil for transportation, etc. Yet today most of the attention on alternative energy is on the supply side . . . And then we get Solyndra. When you talk about solutions, where do you put your emphasis?

LibWingofLibWing October 15th, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Hey, Bill, I just got here.

I want to thank you for coming to Bellingham, Washington and speaking against the Cherry Point port and coal train. We had about 500 people at Occupy Bellingham yesterday and one of the concerns expressed at the G.A. was against the coal trains.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 3:18 pm

i thought it was pretty great. he doesn’t;’ get the respect he deserves in this country; overseas it’s a different story. people understand he’s a truth-teller

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 3:19 pm

that’s great news. i really loved that evening in bellingham. people seemed so ready to do the right thing, and without anger or fear, just resolve built on love of place and community

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 3:20 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 108

i always try to remember that it’s conservation first, supply second. sometimes it’s ahrd, becuase you can’t take a picture of a retrofitted house the way you can of a new wind turbine.

freeman October 15th, 2011 at 3:20 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 104

I was on Wall street with my wife and kids when there was less than two hundred “kids” at the park . A week later there was tens of thousand in NYC and it has spread like wildfire across the country !

My worry is that the occupations will die with the weather and from trying to sustain the numbers they have achieved after a relatively short time .

I think it is a matter of either building the next phase off the momentum gained , such as a lead up to the threat of a general strike or other ideas which take this to a larger audience through means universally available to most citizens or watching it dissipate along with our best chance to date of actually creating real change.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 3:20 pm

btw, apologies for all the typos. i’m a little worn out, and it seems to be affecting my fingers

Scarecrow October 15th, 2011 at 3:21 pm
In response to wbgonne @ 98

I missed that. Is Bill scheduled for Occupy Boston this week? when?

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 3:21 pm
In response to freeman @ 113

i’m not too worried about it dissipating. yes, it will eventually need to move indoors, but these ideas are now lodged in the bloodstream of the body politic. i think it’s going to have huge effect

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 3:22 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 116

hopefully will be there thursday evening, before a panel with the great wendell berry on civil disobedience, which i think is at cambridge forum. i think the occupy plans are fluid, though, and i wouldn’t presume to speak for anyone at the encmapment. mainly jsut eager to see what they;re up to

freeman October 15th, 2011 at 3:23 pm
In response to Kathryn in MA @ 107

That is in the end the only truly viable solution , and one based on choices I made in the seventies as a youngster which I have never regretted.

But that doesn’t seem to be gaining traction among the majority of the electorate who see progressive politics as little more than some naive means of rearranging the proverbial chairs on our civilizations titanic illusions.

Kathryn in MA October 15th, 2011 at 3:25 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 114

Well yeah, considering all the traveling you’ve been doing!
And we had a beloved commenter, Mary, whose typos were epic, so you are in good company.

Scarecrow October 15th, 2011 at 3:26 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 114

No problem. Some of use the Steve Jobs memorial iPad self correcting spell checker, and yu only have to retype twice, assuming yu remember what yu meant to say.

spocko October 15th, 2011 at 3:28 pm
In response to freeman @ 119

I’m reading the great book, “Life. Inc.” and he talks about the whole mind set of corporatism that has been developed over the last several decades.
What really gets me is just how much I have taken that view to heart with out really understanding it and where it comes from.

Tammany Tiger October 15th, 2011 at 3:28 pm
In response to wbgonne @ 90

Worse yet, Obama will wind up wasting four years that should have been spent getting us off our fossil fuel addiction. The last thing we can afford to do is waste time.

spocko October 15th, 2011 at 3:29 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 121

Which reminds me of an old joke about Apple’s self correcting spell checking feature (with handwriting)

Q. How many Newton users does it take to change a light bulb?”

A. Farm.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 3:30 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 123

yeah, that’s the problem. i understood the impulse to do health care first (even if it didn’t; work out so well) but this a really time limtied problem

freeman October 15th, 2011 at 3:30 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 117

It will have an effect yes but you are more optimistic than I about what it will take bring about real change.

And in that statement I do not merely include our 1% and their henchmen in DC and in the financial sector.

Josh Nelson October 15th, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Bill, which media outlets do you think have done a good job covering the Keystone XL permitting process? Anyone doing great work on this?

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 3:33 pm
In response to Josh Nelson @ 127

the nytimes has done a great job. brad johnson at center for american progress. desmogblog. kate sheppard at mother jones. rolling stone. the christian century. sojourners. tomdispatch

Kathryn in MA October 15th, 2011 at 3:33 pm
In response to spocko @ 122

It was all very scientific and economy of scale and modern – get with the program! We were going to the stars! and we couldn’t see what we were losing. Old timey guys were just quaint.
Of course, with all of NASA’s fly-bys of the other planets revealing them to be just dusty rock, our own planet is looking rather special.

Scarecrow October 15th, 2011 at 3:33 pm
In response to spocko @ 124

After a while, That makes perfect sense.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 3:35 pm
In response to Kathryn in MA @ 129

kathryn–does that ever scare you? like, what if we really are the one and only living planet? it would make it especially tragic to be blowing it as badly as we are

Josh Nelson October 15th, 2011 at 3:40 pm

We’ve got about 20 minutes left, folks. Get your questions for Bill McKibben in now if you have them.

freeman October 15th, 2011 at 3:41 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 131

Reminds me of a bumper sticker I’ve seen in logging towns before they went South .

“EARTH FIRST , WE’LL STRIP THE OTHER PLANETS LATER “

freeman October 15th, 2011 at 3:43 pm

SO what other strategies do you see as viable after the occupations move in doors ?

DO you think you’ll be able to levitate the White House ?

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 3:43 pm
In response to freeman @ 133

too true, i fear

Kathryn in MA October 15th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
In response to Bill McKibben @ 131

Right – THIS is the Garden of Eden and expulsion will be pretty grim. How anyone can even think of replicating this on another planet – they must be horribly deluded or simpletons. The sheer scale of beauty – and Profit is more attractive? As someone said above, once you trashed the place, where are you going to go to enjoy the moneY?

Scarecrow October 15th, 2011 at 3:44 pm

When you speak abroad about Climat change issues, how do you explain to your audience the degree and, uh, logic of climate deniers here? What do our foreign friends think of us?

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 3:47 pm
In response to freeman @ 134

no levitating–but maybe we can liberate the barack obama they seem to have locked in the basement directly after the 2008 election.

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 3:48 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 137

our foreign friends are rightly mystified. they’re used to thinking of americans as rational, common-sense, can-do types–they may not always like what we do, but they know we’ve amassed our power using the tools that science provided. so they snicker (the chinese especially) at how in our middle age as a country we seem willing to delude ourselves, tell ourselves fairytales

Kathryn in MA October 15th, 2011 at 3:49 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 137

They’re happy we are finally standing up – kudos to you, btw, for standing with Bill in DC, (and Berkeley before that…)

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 3:50 pm

friends, with your permission i’m going to sign off a couple of minutes early here. i’m supposed to speak by skype to powershift australia–1000 young people gathered in sydney for climate action.

thanks enormously for all the good questions. and again, thanks to scarecrow john and to jane for putting on the handcuffs

freeman October 15th, 2011 at 3:50 pm
In response to Kathryn in MA @ 136

It’s staggering. I like the Ideas of Sri aurobindo who postulates the next inevitable evolution to the human species will be the birth of “the spiritual man”.

We could plant a tree while we’re waiting for him in Auroville.

jonerik October 15th, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Hi, Bill!

This might seem like bringing up ancient history but I wonder if it makes sense to press the Kyoto Protocol issue limiting greenhouse gas emissions? What I mean is that Canada was a signatory and as I understand it, the tar sands development has resulted in Canada violating that treaty. Now Bill Clinton at least pledged to honor Kyoto and I’ve read that Clinton’s signature on the treaty has at least some morally binding force. My point is that the arguments for the Keystone XL Pipeline is that “well, they’re going to build it anyway in Canada if not in the USA” lose force if we point out, we shouldn’t be aiding and abetting Canada in violating this treaty. President Obama can and should honor that Treaty with or without Senate approval. Thanks for your work!

BevW October 15th, 2011 at 3:51 pm

As we come to the end of this lively Book Salon discussion,

Bill, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and discussing your new book with us.

Josh, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Bill’s website, 350.org, and book

Josh’s website and Credo Action

Thanks all, have a great evening.

Sunday:
Aaron Belkin / How We Won: Progressive Lessons from Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”; Hosted by Dan Choi

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 3:51 pm
In response to jonerik @ 143

very well put!

freeman October 15th, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Thanks for all you do Bill . Your an incredible inspiration !

Namaste

Bill McKibben October 15th, 2011 at 3:52 pm
In response to BevW @ 144

oh, and give my love to dan choi too. he wore the handcuffs, and it wasn’t even ‘his issue’

Kathryn in MA October 15th, 2011 at 3:54 pm
In response to freeman @ 142

Thanks for mentioning – i shall check that out – and plant some hazelnut bushes!

Scarecrow October 15th, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Thanks much to Bill for coming today, and to Josh for his excellent intro and questions. Everyone should be in D.C in November for the great encirclement, and the search beyond the Obama stunt double. Bring your friends.

Kathryn in MA October 15th, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Peace, everyone.

Josh Nelson October 15th, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Thanks all!

wbgonne October 15th, 2011 at 4:08 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 116

thurs 5:30 per the ob schedule

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