Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bill McKibben

I’m kind of a cynic about contemporary environmental activism; so much of it seems sort of a way to sell things—not that I’m opposed to commerce, but when, for instance, General Electric sponsors the effort to get people trading in their old incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescents, you’ve got to wonder just a little bit.

I’m also skeptical about the earnestness of the environmental movement, at least as it plays out in Seattle, with lots of gray-haired people in Gore-Tex jackets driving Subarus and Volvos to well-heated events decrying the consumerism and overconsumption.

Last night, though, at Seattle Town Hall, in spite of the fact that both those aspects of the overall effort to do something, anything, about human-induced global climate change and environmental degradation were on display, I found myself getting really excited and energized about possibilities and prospects and even began thinking about how I might take part in an organized environmental movement in the coming months.

The impetus for this inclination came from listening to Bill McKibben, the man who more or less introduced the general public to the reality of global warming, with his 1989 classic, The End of Nature, who was there to talk about, among other things, his new book, Eaarth: Making a Life On a Tough New Planet, in which he argues that we’ve already significantly altered the air, water, and climate of our planet so significantly that we can’t even refer to it by its old name, earth.

He also talked a lot about his organization,, which seeks to convince government and business to get on board with reducing the parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere to 350 from its current level of about 390 and that’s what got me excited about doing something on 10/10/10,’s next big event day.

My current plan is to round up 350 bike riders to put together a self-supported carbon-neutral party; kind of like your average Thursday night, only bigger.


Blogger Deb's Lunch said...

I hear you - I remember being cynical about the very first Earth Day, when it was promoted in my 9th grade biology class in the spring of 1970, by the most earnest young hippie in the class (who later disappeared in South East Asia by all reports; she's probably a dignified middle-aged woman and mother of grown children in Minnesota by now, if she's not dead - guess I should look for her on Facebook). But, ya know, Earth Day was invented in Wisconsin by Gaylord Nelson - and this year, since it's 40 years, there're all manner of celebrations, from Earth Dinners to a show at the Historical Museum.

8:22 AM  

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