Regardless whether one is a skeptic or an adherent when it comes to the belief that human activity is currently contributing to potentially catastrophic global climate change, it seems reasonableâ€”given the breadth of available dataâ€”to take the risk seriously and take action accordingly. Ultimately, there is more to be gained than lost by lessening the overall impact humans have on the planet. One of the more vocal adherents of the dangers of climate change is the American environmentalist and writer, Bill McKibben. As reported by the Boston Globe, McKibben recently gave a presentation at Dartmouth College to offer his thoughts on the topic and to promote a new campaign, called Step It Up, that is encouraging citizens and communities to take action to save the climate:
HANOVER, N.H. — The Dartmouth College crowd filled one auditorium on a cold afternoon this month, and spilled into a second with a big screen. The draw was Bill McKibben, one of the country’s leading environmental writers and activists, who was talking about the perils of global warming.
But after the audience applauded his call to build a climate-change movement, one supporter challenged him.
“We’re preaching to the converted here,” said Kevin Peterson , 46, a program officer at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. “How do you get to the other 95 percent of the folks who drive SUVs and couldn’t care less?”
The question framed one of the most difficult issues for McKibben and other environmentalists now rallying to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are gradually warming the earth. Global warming remains an orphan cause, not yet attracting the swell of protesters who have gathered to protest wars in the past.
“Only if the choir sings five times louder is there any chance we’ll get” federal legislation to help stop global warming, McKibben told the Dartmouth audience. “It’s important now to get everyone in the choir to sing at the top of their lungs.”
His timing may be right: Congress is considering more than a dozen global warming bills, Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” just won an Oscar, two global oil companies are investing in wind energy, and several corporations are backing legislation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
A youthful-looking 46, McKibben was among the first to sound the alarm about global warming in 1989 with “The End of Nature.” But after that book and nine others, he no longer seems content with just issuing warnings. He wants to lead people into action.
McKibben, along with five Middlebury College graduates and a current Middlebury student, are organizing a one-day extravaganza on April 14, Earth Day, called Step It Up. Their goal is to stage more than 1,000 global warming-related events in the 50 states; by late last week, the Internet-powered movement had counted 937 events around the country. [full text]
For more information on Step It Up or to locate or organize an event in your area, please visit stepitup2007.org.
To view a short video clip featuring Bill McKibben, click play below or follow this link.