and head of the global environmentalist campaign 350.org
that American “hyper-individualism” and consumerism corrupt both
the environment and humanity
the notion that anthropogenic global warming will result in environmental
See also: 350.org
in 1960 and raised in Lexington, Massachusetts, Bill McKibben is arguably the most influential environmental activist in America today.
Although he does not have a scientific academic background, McKibben
has written extensively, and predominantly, on environmentalism. In addition to having authored numerous books predicated on global-warming alarmism,
McKibben is also the founder and leader of 350.org, a campaign
dedicated to achieving intergovernmental regulation of carbon
emissions. Contending that Christian ethical
teachings are coextensive
with left-wing politics, McKibben has, in particular, embraced
radical Biblical interpretations which construe environmentalism as a
is a graduate of Harvard University, where he was president
of the student newspaper, the Harvard
Crimson. Upon graduation, he became a writer for The
New Yorker and remained
there until 1987. After leaving that publication, McKibben
spent several years in the Adirondack Mountains of New York and later
moved to Vermont, where he became a scholar-in-residence at
devoting himself to environmental activism, McKibben produced a
series of books on the subject. In 1989, for example, he published The
End of Nature, which had a significant impact on the radical environmentalist movement and is considered the first book for a general audience about climate change (which at that time was commonly referred to as the "greenhouse effect"). Emphasizing the threat of an imminent global-warming catastrophe, the book suggests that the earth is headed
for environmental destruction as a result of human industrial activity. The
only hope for preventing such calamity, says the book, is to implement far-reaching
intergovernmental regulations and to dramatically alter the allegedly polluting lifestyles of Western cultures.
McKibben's more controversial works is his 1999 book Maybe
One: A Case for Smaller Families,
in which he argues that one-child families are ethically superior
to their larger counterparts because the existing rate of human population growth is detrimental to the
of McKibben’s writing extols the virtues of “de-development.” In the author's view, mankind's ever-increasing technological and industrial progress corrupts both human
nature and the natural environment. For instance, in his 2003 book Enough:
Staying Human in an Engineered Age,
2007 McKibben led the "Step
It Up" campaign, an anti-global-warming initiative that was
funded, in part, by the Rockefeller
and the Rockefeller
Family Fund. Demanding that Congress place restrictions
on carbon emissions -- with the aim of reducing global warming
pollution 80% by the year 2050 -- "Step It Up" later went international
and adopted the name
lead us ... toward the revolutionary idea that we’ve grown about as
powerful as it’s wise to grow; that the rush of technological
innovation that’s marked the last five hundred years can finally
slow ... But those decisions will only emerge if people understand the
time for what it is: the moment when we stand precariously on the
sharp ridge between the human past and the posthuman future[.]”
McKibben's 2007 book Deep Economy, and his 2010
book Eaarth: A
Guide to Living on a Fundamentally Altered Planet,
deliver the author's characteristically anti-technology message advocating the "controlled decline" of modern industry. Mckibben writes
that when he published The
End of Nature in 1989, “It
was [still] too early to see the practical effects of climate change[.]”
Author Stanley Kurtz distills McKibben's core objective down to its essence:
is arguing for a return to relatively self-sufficient local
communities, especially when it comes to food. Modern agriculture
feeds huge numbers of people at a very low price. Yet industrial
farming is carbon-intensive, from the fertilizers, to the combines,
to the planes and ships that transport all that produce around the
globe. McKibben wants to undo this system with a large-scale return
to the land. Labor-intensive (rather than carbon-intensive)
agriculture would form the nucleus of a new, quasi-peasant society.
Relatively self-sufficient local farming communities would be
protected not only from global warming, but from capitalism’s
cycles of boom and bust.... Americans would consume pretty much only
locally grown food."
this same spirit, McKibben
the agricultural sector of Cuba -- a politically
isolated country whose agriculture is organic and localized, as McKibben prefers, chiefly
because it has had
little access to pesticides and external markets.
When Deep Economy and Eaarth were published, McKibben routinely supplemented his warnings about climate change with claims that the world was rapidly "running out of oil." But soon thereafter, hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and other
technologies for accessing oil and gas reserves ushered in
a new era where it became evident that fossil fuels were present in great abundance in the United States. Quickly assimilating this newfound information, McKibben discontinued his previous warnings about a dwindling supply of oil, even as he held fast to his position that oil was toxic to the environment.
According to McKibben, people who doubt that anthropogenic global warming poses a grave and imminent threat to life on earth
suffer from "climate
change denialism." He also has claimed that such disparate events as Hurricane
Katrina (in 2005) and
the severe snowstorms that struck Washinton, DC in 2010 were uniformly the consequences
of climate change.
McKibben identifies the United States as the world's chief polluter. By his reckoning, a combination of American "materialism" and “hyperindividualism” -- i.e., people's desire to live in
large houses situated far from densely populated areas -- are largely to
blame for this.
In McKibben's view, European-style collectivization is not only more environmentally friendly than capitalism, but is also more conducive to human happiness.
In recent years, McKibben, who ejoys a mass following among young adults, has been a leading figure in a nationwide campus movement to pressure colleges and universities to divest whatever assets they may have invested in oil companies -- which he depicts as “reckless
like no other force on Earth.” McKibben himself
the divestment movement with a July 2012 article he wrote for Rolling
Warming’s Terrifying New Math,”
which quickly went viral on the Internet. In that piece, McKibben stated that the earth's environment could only be saved by holding average temperatures worldwide to no more
than 2 degrees Celsius above where they had stood at the dawn of the
Industrial Revolution. This goal, said McKibben, could only be achieved by leaving 80% of
the planet's known oil, coal, and gas reserves permanently buried and untapped. This, in turn, would require governments to impose steeply escalating carbon taxes designed to make it prohibitively expensive for anyone to deal in fossil fuels. Emphasizing that the implementation of such measures is a matter of great urgency, McKibben warns that "our whole civilization stands on the edge of collapse."
A noteworthy ally to McKibben in his environmentalist endeavors is the author Naomi Klein.
For additional information on Bill McKibben, click here.