Bill McKibben's Math Starts Adding Up

| 2/19/2013 12:23:03 PM


From climate science to grassroots organizing, for founder Bill McKibben, it's all about the numbers.  

This article originally appeared at Waging Nonviolence. 

You can’t build a movement without numbers. If anyone understands that, it’s co-founder Bill McKibben.

Standing in front of an estimated crowd of 50,000 people gathered for the Forward on Climate rally yesterday on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. he said, “All I ever wanted to see was a movement of people to stop climate change, and now I’ve seen it.”

Billed as “the largest climate rally in U.S. history,” the event was intended as one final push to convince President Obama that his environmental legacy hinges on whether he rejects the Keystone XL pipeline — a conduit to what has been called by NASA scientist James Hansen “the world’s largest carbon bomb.” To underscore this point, has consistently made an effort to quantify its achievements into superlatives, ready-made for headlines.

Yet, had they not put so much effort into creating the perception of a powerful movement, they might not have ever built one. According to political scientist Erica Chenoweth, co-author of Why Civil Resistance Works, “There is power in numbers, and the more people participate, the more likely the movement is to effect real change. Interestingly, this may lead more people to participate because they want to join a movement that will ultimately be successful.”

Patrick Reinsborough of the Center for Story-Based Strategy (formerly smartMeme), which trains activists to use narrative as a tool, agrees. “The most important thing to communicate is that this movement is growing, and that everyday citizens are willing to step out of their comfort zone in order to be seen and heard,” he said.

Mike Conley
2/22/2013 5:11:31 PM

Re: comparative costs of energy production, please see:

Mike Conley
2/22/2013 5:09:03 PM

2/22/2013 4:08:54 PM

Ooops... forgot the links get edited out. OK, so do a search on "Epstein, full cost of coal".

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