On Bill McKibben’s Climate Address at Yale Oct. 10

by Julia Berger, New Haven Activist

On Oct. 10, 2017, Bill McKibben, the environmentalist and founder of 350.org, spoke to a large crowd at Woolsey Hall, New Haven, on “Simply Too Hot—The Desperate Science and Politics of Climate.” (See video link below.)

He began his talk declaring that there is almost universal consensus on climate change and global warming. Recent earthquakes, flooding and large-scale fires attest to the dangers caused by global warming. The U.S., Europe and Asia, among the major creators of climate change, are downsizing their use of fossil fuels—just not fast enough.

Scientists and others have known and warned for 30-40 years about the dangers of the depletion of the earth’s ozone layer due to fossil fuel extraction and use. In the 1970s Shell Oil scientists confirmed the dangers of a looming global warming disaster, but Shell, instead of acting on their own scientists’ warnings, publicly went the opposite way, denying climate change. President Jimmy Carter in the 1970s put solar panels on the White House; Reagan tore them down.

McKibben concluded that we’ve lost 40 years in our struggle against fossil fuel industries.

Are we past the point of no return? No one knows.

The Paris Accords definitely don’t go far enough—fast enough. When Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Accords stating he was the President of Pittsburgh, not Paris, the mayor of Pittsburgh phoned Trump that Pittsburgh was going 100% renewable as fast as possible.

Individuals can also fight the giants to get alternate renewable energy sources. While not everyone can get solar panels (they are now way down in cost), each of us can pressure local governments to acquire community solar panels, wind turbines, etc., to meet community energy needs. We can individually divest our money from banks and stocks and bonds that fund the fossil fuel industries.

We can protest by marching and rallying to push our cause. Already protesters all over the world are putting their bodies on the line to interfere with fossil fuel extraction and pipelines.

As part of a nation majorly responsible for creating this problem, we should be creative and more active in this fight to preserve the planet.

At his alma mater, Harvard, McKibben tried in vain to get the wealthy university to divest from fossil fuels. The Yale Corporation also refuses to divest even as several colleges work on information to counteract global warming and even when the stock value of fossil fuel industries decline. Members of universities can protest by getting arrested. (McKibben recommended that older and financially secure individuals, such as tenured professors, might go this route.)

The task, the challenge for us all, is to speed up this anti-fossil fuel trend. Make it a priority. Write to your local newspapers. Publicize, publicize, publicize. Note: there was very little coverage of McKibben’s talk in the Yale Daily News and none in the New Haven Register as far as this writer could determine.

This Chubb Fellowship Lecture featured Bill McKibben, an author and environmentalist who, in 2014, was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the “alternative Nobel.” He is a founder of 350.org. More about Bill McKibben and the Chubb Fellowship at: http://chubbfellowship.org.

Watch the full lecture here:

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