Thursday, February 22, 2007

Bill McKibben: Climate Crisis Long Time Coming

In an article in Salon, environmental writer and climate activist Bill McKibben tells how some nations heeded earlier warnings while others (such as the US) ignored the signs that "humans had grown so large in numbers and especially in appetite for energy that they were now damaging the most basic of the earth's systems -- the balance between incoming and outgoing solar energy." He goes on to explain, "...if world leaders had heeded the early warnings of the first IPCC report, and by 2000 had done the very hard work to keep greenhouse gas emissions from growing any higher, the expected temperature increase would be half as much as is expected now. In the words of the experts at, where the most useful analyses of the new assessment can be found, climate change is a problem with a very high "procrastination penalty": a penalty that just grows and grows with each passing year of inaction.
The only really encouraging development is the groundswell of public concern that has built over the last year, beginning with the reaction to Hurricane Katrina and Al Gore's movie. In January, a few of us launched an initiative called It calls for Americans to organize rallies in their own communities on April 14 asking for congressional action. In the first few weeks the Web site was open, more than 600 groups in 46 states registered to hold demonstrations -- this will clearly be the largest organized response to global warming yet in this country. The groups range from environmental outfits to evangelical churches to college sororities, united only by the visceral sense (fueled in part by this winter's bizarre weather) that the planet has been knocked out of whack. The IPCC assessment offers a modest account of just how far out of whack it is -- and just how hard we're going to have to work to have even a chance at limiting the damage. "
Bill McKibben was the keynote speaker at the annual IREJN Sacred Trust Forum in 2004. For info on this year's Forum, visit our website at
The website for Bill McKibben's April 14 Climate Change demonstrations is
IREJN is Connecticut's Interfaith Power and Light. Visit us at

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