BOSTON- Bill McKibben, an American environmentalist and author who frequently writes about global warming, alternative energy, and the risks associated with human genetic engineering, spoke at the Institute of Contemporary Art in downtown Boston on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008, stating that our generation is the last hope for the planet regarding global warming.
Formerly president of the Harvard Crimson newspaper at Harvard University, McKibben joined the New Yorker magazine as a staff writer after graduating, and wrote much of the “Talk of the Town” column from 1982 to early 1987.
Today, McKibben is a scholar in residence in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College, and author of numerous books, including The Bill McKibben Reader, Fight Global Warming Now, Deep Economy, and American Earth.
McKibben told of dozens of scientists who visited a submerged mountain range in the Arctic Ocean near the North Pole and found the arctic ice caps severely melting at a fast pace. Some scientists say there may be no summer ice in the arctic by 2015, and refugee numbers will increase due to climate change and rising water, as a seven-foot rise in sea level would occur if Greenland’s ice melted.
“Morals are a big part of this global warming dilemma,” said McKibben, “and wealthier places could fix rising [water levels] with dikes and levees, but poor countries could not.” For third world countries, this may cause a drastic death rate. Over the last 60 years, we have been trying to build houses as far away from each other as possible, and now the only houses retaining value are those around cities. Credit and insurance companies will go out of business because the world will change along with water levels and temperatures. McKibben said fossil fuels must be properly priced to get real change because a global cap on carbon is needed. Exxon Mobil, one of the most successful gas companies in the nation, “last year made the most money by a single company in the history of money,” he said.
McKibben emphasized that a tough global cap on carbon is essential to accomplish anything. “The safe upper bound for carbon is 350 parts per million (ppm) in our atmosphere, but the most important issue of our generation is our atmosphere because right now we are at 387 ppm and the number is rising 2 ppm per year,” he said.
McKibben has achieved teamwork and cooperation on this issue with Americans all over the country. He has walked in Vermont with 1000 people, resulting in getting congress in Vermont to pledge and sign a petition to cut carbon 80 percent by 2020. McKibben also got all 50 states to protest global warming.
This Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008, Barack Obama will discuss global warming and McKibben encouraged everyone in the audience to “locate and watch” his words. With his farewell, he motivated everyone to become more involved and to teach about climate change/global warming by visiting 350.org.
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