Bill McKibben: Three Steps to Establish a Politics of Global Warming

| 8/5/2010 10:03:26 AM

Tags: Environment, Bill McKibben, global warming, phytoplankton, TomDispatch Bill McKibben,

bill mckibben headshot

This article originally appeared at

Try to fit these facts together:

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the planet has just come through the warmest decade, the warmest 12 months, the warmest six months, and the warmest April, May, and June on record.

* A “staggering” new study from Canadian researchers has shown that warmer seawater has reduced phytoplankton, the base of the marine food chain, by 40% since 1950.

Nine nations have so far set their all-time temperature records in 2010, including Russia (111 degrees), Niger (118), Sudan (121), Saudi Arabia and Iraq (126 apiece), and Pakistan, which also set the new all-time Asia record in May: a hair under 130 degrees. I can turn my oven to 130 degrees.

9/26/2010 5:45:16 PM

It seems to me that the environmental groups have not done a good job at getting ordinary people involved. All they ever ask people for is money or to sign an online petition. There needs to be a more creative solution for getting people involved.

revone r bauwens_2
9/6/2010 11:20:08 PM

I'll bet my solar covered roof that Bill McKibben would like to throttle you guys - you read his article, you don't comprehend the message, then sloppily try to one-up his hard-earned insight on the topic. Geez, guys, go put on your big guy and gal environmental panties and stage a protest or two. We need you on subject and out in some important person's face. Get going.

8/17/2010 8:06:33 PM

I agree completely, Gregory. I have amassed a lot of data and find many things correlate with rising temperatures, all of which are a direct result of increasing population. It could be that rising CO2 levels are a symptom and not a cause. It astounds me no one EVER addresses population. As for the climate yo-yoing, this should not be a surprise. As I have pointed out for a decade and a half, while climate change may be accelerated by humans, there is an underlying cycle. If you read the research on other interglacial periods, they were characterized by erratic, extreme changing. Calling it global warming was an error. I said so in the early 1990s. I say so now. I know, I'm no one. So who will listen to me. So I suspect the AGW cultists will continue to advocate futile attempts to control CO2 instead of rationally accepting that some parts of climate change are not controllable and our real effort should be in creating sustainable communities secure from the vagaries of climate change. Vertical farms for our food. Abandonment of suburbs and sprawling single family communities that require a personal care in favor of dense green communities with mass transit. Promoting real green lifestyles of non-consuming instead of continuing the line the pockets of greenwashed manufacturers. And most of all, severely limiting our burgeoning population.

gregory _2
8/9/2010 4:07:58 AM

Ever increasing human population as a root cause of environmental destruction is what is missing from this article and virtually every other current discussion of environment and global warming. Its time to end the taboo on talking about population and the environment. We need a national discussion on population. "Problems of wasteful consumption can be solved if population growth is halted, but such solutions are essentially irrelevant if populations continue to proliferate" -Albert Bartlett, Dept. of Physics, U. of Colorado

gregory _2
8/9/2010 4:01:06 AM

Ever increasing human population is the missing root cause of environmental destruction in this article. Its time to end the taboo on talking openly about population and the environment. We need a national discussion on population. "Problems of wasteful consumption can be solved if population growth is halted, but such solutions are essentially irrelevant if populations continue to proliferate." -Albert Bartlett, Dept. of Physics, U. of Colorado

revone r bauwens_2
8/7/2010 4:52:03 PM

‘F*#king A!’ to the new and improved Bill McKibben! The only dynamic missing in his outstanding movement is the uncompromising, in your face, activism that is now needed to force our political leaders to make climate change the absolute number one priority of the world. McKibben admits that the patient, educational approach that seemed necessary and right to encourage folks to change the way that we live has not worked and will not work. Most issues can afford the decades that it takes to effect a change. Not climate change. So much global warming, so little time.

8/7/2010 8:59:13 AM

The statistics are shocking--and believable, and I agree that we can't wait around for compromise. I fear, however, that this movement is not likely to materialize because climate yo-yos along--sometimes hot, others not so much, and as the Friedman article pointed out, so many seemingly more immediate crises confront us. Go ahead with the movement idea. When I can, I'll support you. Meanwhile, I think the real move is to get people doing that insulation and buying those smaller vehicles--riding the bus, turning off lights, all that. We need to move beyond fossil fuels as individuals and communities. Then, taking a stand for the planet won't feel so radical. Scientists as soothsayers are less than convincing because we're used to demonstrating the validity of results--reproducing them. ALl of us learned the scientific method and that's what it says--repeatable. There's not repeatability for climate change. Frighteningly, once it's been proved, it will be much, much too late. "Be the change you want to see" as Ghandi said, THEN go march on the capital and city hall and the county commissioners.

doug lass_4
8/6/2010 11:45:50 AM

Great article!! It's about time that somebody speaks up for the envioroment and call for civil disobedience! All enviormental institutions, like the Sierra Club, should start working together with other like minded institutions and plan a big national,even worldwide event. Earth Day is a big event, but there should be more events like that all year long!! the only complaint I have is the author used the F word. I think that word should not be used.