Home | About | Donate

How Mankind Blew the Fight Against Cimate Change


How Mankind Blew the Fight Against Cimate Change

Bill McKibben

If historians someday need to explain how mankind managed to blow the fight against climate change, they need only point to last month’s shareholder meeting at Exxon Mobil headquarters in Dallas.


I have two new enemies to fight in order to inhibit climate change. They are both about ignorance.

First, we’re ignorant that better forms of election exist. I hate it when people rail against our crummy electoral system every two years and then don’t bother to use a search engine to find a better electoral system. If people were really into stopping climate change, they’d find a better system. Then they’d implement it on the student council level or on the community level, if only as a matter of personal outrage against the big dumb corrupt election system.

Second, we’re ignorant about renewables research and development. I’ve never once seen 350.org mention the existence of such a thing. However, renewables R&D will trounce fossil fuel use sooner or later, and the Koch brothers are praying to their money god that it’s later, much, much later.


So you don’t believe that greenhouse gasses from human activity is warming the planet and causing climate change on top of the natural variability that has a recorded history of eons detailed by paleoclimatologists who agree on “mankind” having such “godlike power” to alter the climate?

Yes that was a run-on rhetorical question.


“If historians someday need to explain how mankind managed to blow the fight against climate change, they need only point to last month’s shareholder meeting at Exxon Mobil headquarters in Dallas.”

Two things:

  1. If fossil fuel divestment and a massive transition to renewal resource energy sources does not soon take place, there will be no historians present to write any record.

  2. The FACT that a handful of corporate energy behemoths use their financial embarrassments of riches to purchase politicians, and through them, policy… is not the same thing as suggesting that mankind, as a whole, blew it.

Other than these corrections, decent article.


Mr. pro-nuke power uses one boilerplate WE to suggest that NO one understood climate change; and that significant groups of people were not agitating and protesting and strategizing to shift this lethal energy calculus; and that everyone was on the same page here. Coincidentally, it is the same page as the P.R people who write the think tank pabulum that the corporately-captured media circulates and regurgitates until its lies told often are perceived by some as true. And Matt Heins is paid to maintain fictions of this nature… and push them on sites like this one.


“Life, so they say, is but a game and we let it slip away. We may never pass this way again…”
-Seals and Crofts

Until the crud of the turd is folded into the petrodollar, nothing changes. End externalities NOW!


Vote for anybody but a democrat or a republican.

They will NEVER effectively address climate change, or their own worship of war-mongering, or anything else we need to have been addressing for the last 5-7 decades. They are too religiously devoted to building war-mongering empires.


I am replying here to all the comments below. Personally I think Bill McKibben walks on water, but unfortunately he does not have all the answers to all the climate problems.

So my question to all of you is: What do we do? Do we say it’s too late and sit back and wait for the end? Do we lynch the CEOs of fossil fuel companies (not a good idea - they’d probably be replaced by someone worse) Do we stop further extraction by any means possible? Do we take a serious look at our carbon footprint and do whatever it takes to get that really low? Do we challenge politicians who don’t care and work to replace them with ones who do?

What would you suggest?


You mean “almost forever”?


Can you qualify that? Do you mean that we can ask questions of you, and you will speak on behalf of BMcK?

What would you suggest?

I conceded defeat long ago. My defeatist attitude comes from watching our broken democracy. I.E. Watching oil moguls push our media industries and our politicians into lying again and again in order to justify war for their own profit. Nothing good can happen while we live in a system where money rules.


A majority of people in this country are at least aware of the crisis we face and how the fossil fuel industry has caused much of the climate change we are experiencing. Unfortunately, those same people are totally unaware of the fact that their diet leads to a significant increase in global warming as well. The United Nation’s scientists have stated that the consumption of meat is responsible for about 20% of all the global warming that is taking place. It has a greater impact than all forms of transportation combined . We at a personal level can have the largest effect on climate change by adopting a more plant-based diet. If we are unwilling to make this change in our personal habits, how can we expect the fossil fuel industry to make the necessary changes to how it conducts it’s business?


I sometimes question McKibben’s tactics but not his sincerity. Give credit where credit is due.


Your first comment is just plain silly. Nowhere did I suggest that I have more answers than McKibben, not that I could somehow answer questions on his behalf.

Your second comment is a lot more serious. I agree with you absolutely that nothing will change while money rules. Which it will because too many people are like you and say we can’t do anything. As my Bangladeshi friend says: If you think you can, you can, and if you think you can’t, you’re right!

So you have a choice. You can sit around and whinge as you are doing now, or you can stand up and fight. Join something like The Climate Mobilization or 350.org. Become a thorn in the side of any politician who supports the 1%. Will Rogers was so right (as always) when he said
–>“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”



I consider myself a protester and my house is fossil fuel free. It is entirely electric and I buy renewable energy credits until such time as a local wind farm goes online in about a year. And I’m guessing that you have never been to a rally; if you had you would realize that most protesters live by their words.


You make good points Robert, but do not denigrate McKibben because he chose to fight this particular fight. Others need to step up and take on industrial agriculture in the same way he has championed leave it in the ground. When you establish Carbon Farming International, or something similar, you can count on me to be a founding member.


Right you are…and that comprehensive approach includes individual action such as adopting an ethical, i.e., vegetarian or vegan diet.


Of the 3 basic electric vehicle technologies (all-battery BEV Tesla/Leaf, Plug-in Hybrid PHEV, and hydrogen fuel cell), the PHEV has by far the most potential to reduce overall fuel/energy consumption for driving and household use. The short driving range of 10-20 miles on the small PHEV battery pack creates more economic incentives to drive less, whereby more trips become possible without having to drive, whereby walking, bicycling and mass transit become more viable modes of travel. The small battery is the more ideal match to rooftop solar, whereby households can more closely monitor and reduce energy consumption; complement regional utility grids rather than overwhelm them as would large battery BEVs; offer a lifesaving emergency backup power supply that isn’t completely dependent upon the grid.

The problems associated with today’s utter dependence upon long-distance driving are mirrored in globalization which serves manufacturers shipping the longest distance. Just as absurd traffic undermines other fundamental modes of urban/suburban travel, the global economy undermines the more important local, regional, state and national economies.

Here then is a basic outline for reducing fuel/energy consumption in planning future economies. Drive less, fly less, truck and ship goods around the world less. No doubt, Big Oil, Auto and Boeing would rather cities remain places citizens seek vacations elsewhere, only to find more of the same demoralizing traffic and rural campground RV, jetski and snowmobiles rumbling rowdy.


More vegetarians, fewer meat eaters.


Do you live by your words? Are you a vegetarian or a vegan?


Which words am I supposed to live by? No, I am not vegan or vegetarian and don’t see why I should be. What little meat I do eat comes from the Farmer’s MArket - grass fed beef, pastured pigs, free-range eggs, sometimes chickens or rabbits.
I have much more chance of changing the current system by supporting and encouraging local agriculture than you have by being vegan. Tyson doesn’t care if you eat their chicken or not, CAFOs couldn’t care if you don’t eat beef. As I see it, only by actively promoting small farmers and their products can we begin to make inroads against industrial agriculture.