Annual Sustainablility Day

Wednesday October 19, 2016

Kick-off Keynote

October 18, 2016 7:30 PM
Weill Hall in the Green Music Center


Bill McKibben

Leading Environmental Speaker and Founder of 350.org

Over the past three decades, Bill McKibben has shaped public perception–and public action–on climate change, alternative energy, and the need for localized economies. An environmental activist, bestselling author, and "the planet's best green journalist" (TIME), McKibben is the founder of 350.org, the massive grassroots climate change initiative.

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Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist who in 2014 was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the "alternative Nobel." His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages; he's gone on to write a dozen more books. He is a founder of 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized 20,000 rallies around the world in every country save North Korea, spearheaded the resistance to the Keystone Pipeline, and launched the fast-growing fossil fuel divestment movement.

The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize, and holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities. Foreign Policy named him to their inaugural list of the world's 100 most important global thinkers, and the Boston Globe said he was “probably America's most important environmentalist.”

A former staff writer for the New Yorker, he writes frequently for a wide variety of publications around the world, including the New York Review of Books, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone. In 2014, biologists honored him by naming a new species of woodland gnat–Megophthalmidia mckibbeni–in his honor.

Highlights

“Probably the country's most important environmentalist.”–Boston Globe

Climate Change

In the summer of 2007, Arctic ice began to melt far more rapidly than scientists had expected. Before the season was out, they'd begun to conclude that the earth was already moving past tipping points–that indicators, from the thawing of glaciers to the spread of droughts, showed global warming was a present crisis, not a future threat. Our leading climatologists even gave us a number for the red line: 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere. That's a tough number, since we're already past it. In this talk, Bill McKibben describes not only the science of the situation, but also the inspiring global movement that he's led to help change the world's understanding of its peril, and spur the reforms necessary to get the planet back to safety. McKibben's work has crossed the boundaries of language and faith, even the gulf between rich and poor, and it makes for a vibrant, powerful talk that can lead to real change.

Books

Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist

Bill McKibben is not a person you'd expect to find handcuffed and behind bars, but that's where he found himself in the summer of 2011 after leading the largest civil disobedience in thirty years, protesting the Keystone XL pipeline in front of the White House.

With the Arctic melting, the Midwest in drought, and Irene scouring the Atlantic, McKibben recognized that action was needed if solutions were to be found. Some of those would come at the local level, where McKibben joins forces with a Vermont beekeeper raising his hives as part of the growing trend toward local food. Other solutions would come from a much larger fight against the fossil-fuel industry as a whole.

Oil and Honey is McKibben's account of these two necessary and mutually reinforcing sides of the global climate fight–from the center of the maelstrom and from the growing hive of small-scale local answers. With empathy and passion he makes the case for a renewed commitment on both levels, telling the story of raising one year's honey crop and building a social movement that's still cresting.

Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

Twenty years ago, with The End of Nature, Bill McKibben offered one of the earliest warnings about global warming. Those warnings went mostly unheeded; now, he insists, we need to acknowledge that we've waited too long, and that massive change is not only unavoidable but already under way. Our old familiar globe is suddenly melting, drying, acidifying, flooding, and burning in ways that no human has ever seen. We've created, in very short order, a new planet, still recognizable but fundamentally different. We may as well call it Eaarth.

That new planet is filled with new binds and traps. A changing world costs large sums to defend–think of the money that went to repair New Orleans, or the trillions it will take to transform our energy systems. But the endless economic growth that could underwrite such largesse depends on the stable planet we've managed to damage and degrade. We can't rely on old habits any longer.

Our hope depends, McKibben argues, on scaling back–on building the kind of societies and economies that can hunker down, concentrate on essentials, and create the type of community (in the neighborhood, but also on the Internet) that will allow us to weather trouble on an unprecedented scale. Change–fundamental change–is our best hope on a planet suddenly and violently out of balance.

The End of Nature

This impassioned plea for radical and life-renewing change is today still considered a groundbreaking work in environmental studies. McKibben's argument that the survival of the globe is dependent on a fundamental, philosophical shift in the way we relate to nature is more relevant than ever. McKibben writes of our earth's environmental cataclysm, addressing such core issues as the greenhouse effect, acid rain, and the depletion of the ozone layer. His new introduction addresses some of the latest environmental issues that have risen during the 1990s. The book also includes an invaluable new appendix of facts and figures that surveys the progress of the environmental movement.

More than simply a handbook for survival or a doomsday catalog of scientific prediction, this classic, soulful lament on Nature is required reading for nature enthusiasts, activists, and concerned citizens alike.

Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future

In this powerful and provocative manifesto, Bill McKibben offers the biggest challenge in a generation to the prevailing view of our economy. Deep Economy makes the compelling case for moving beyond "growth" as the paramount economic ideal and pursuing prosperity in a more local direction, with regions producing more of their own food, generating more of their own energy, and even creating more of their own culture and entertainment. Our purchases need not be at odds with the things we truly value, McKibben argues, and the more we nurture the essential humanity of our economy, the more we will recapture our own.


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