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Transcript: 350.org’s Bill McKibben Shares Human Costs of Climate Change & Innovative Solutions

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350.org Co-Founder Bill McKibben
with Blogger Anne Brock of FlourSackMama.com

Could your family get involved in something today to help curb climate change?  Could your church, your local college, your community?  Still wondering why you should care?

350.org’s Bill McKibben sat down with Anne Brock of FlourSackMama.com to share his urgent message about something that affects every family in every corner of the globe. His message is not only about the human costs of climate change, but about innovative solutions that we all can be a part of.Here’s the transcript of what he had to say:

Q: This is Anne Brock from Flour Sack Mama. I’m here today honored to be speaking with preeminent author and activist Bill McKibben, the winner of the Sophie Prize for climate activism, and co-founder of 350.org.  Thank you for being here.  Can you explain briefly why the group is called 350.org and what that means for our planet?

A: 350 is the most important number on earth, but nobody knew it until about 5 years ago.  In 2008 our most important climate scientists at NASA, led by a man named Jim Hansen, published a series of papers showing that the most carbon we could safely have in the atmosphere was 350 parts per million.  The problem is we’ve already burned so much coal and gas and oil and put so much carbon in the atmosphere that we’re past that.  We’re at about 400 parts per million and it goes up about 2 parts per million every year.  That carbon traps heat that would otherwise escape back out into space. It’s why the Arctic is melting, it’s why the temperature is rising, it’s why we see more drought and more flood all the time. So, our job is to stop that rise in carbon.  Our job is to get our society off coal and gas and oil just as fast as we can.

Q: You are talking with universities and colleges. You’re organizing about divestment of the fossil fuel industry. Why divestment?

A: One of the ways we can persuade the fossil fuel industry to stop blocking progress, to stop using its financial weight in Washington, at the capitol, to keep change from happening, one way to do that is to say “we’re not going to participate with you financially any more.  Our universities, just as we did around South Africa and apartheid a quarter century ago, don’t want to be in business with you anymore.”  We can’t bankrupt Exxon, but we can politically bankrupt them and make it harder for them to block change in Washington.

Q: You’ve spoken to churches.  You’ve said  “This is the largest social justice issue that we have ever faced.” As you know, the enormity of this can numb people into thinking it’s too big to fix.  Why should every family be concerned and become a part of the solution to this?

A: Because this is the one issue that there’s ever been that’s going to affect every family and every generation of every family for thousands of years to come. The changes we’re making right now, what we do in the next ten years, will help determine the geological history of the planet.  We can already see the danger.  The Arctic essentially melted last summer.  So we’re making change on a huge scale and we’ve just gotta stop.

Q: So the window of opportunity here is pretty short?

A: The window is pretty short.   And it’s, I’m afraid, closing.  There are scientists who think we’ve waited too long to get started.  The best science indicates we can no longer stop global warming. We’ve already raised the planet’s temperature almost two degrees Fahrenheit. But we can perhaps still keep it from getting utterly out of control, only if we go to work now.

Q: In this movement, in this work that you do, in this volunteering that you do, what role does faith play for you?

A: I’m a Methodist.  Faith, among other things, allows us on dark days to hope that if we do everything that we possibly can, the world might meet us halfway.

Q: Thank you so much for talking with us.  And if you would like to add, I saw that you have a new book coming out in September.

A: I do have a book coming out, Oil and Honey it’s called. But much more important for people to go to 350.org and just get involved in the fight.

Q: Thank you so much, Bill McKibben.

A: What a pleasure.

FREE resources for you here at 350.org!

McKibben Inspires Sustainability in America’s Secret City.

What going local has to do with fighting climate change.

McKibben answers questions from Women’s Voices for the Earth.

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