Bill McKibben Talk Hits Home

McKibben

Northwood students saw McKibben speak in Keene in October. (Photo: Steve Liptay)

Bill McKibben is a name that brings to mind the fight to do something about climate change when it is mentioned. McKibben dedicated his life to the environmental cause in 1980, but before this he attended Harvard University in Cambridge, MA where he was editor of the Harvard Crimson, the school’s newspaper. After graduating, he spent a few years freelancing, writing environmentalist articles for magazines including The New York Times, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone. In 1989, his first book, The End of Nature, was published.

Since then, he has written fourteen more books, led many environmental movements, began working as a Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College in Vermont, and founded the website 350.org, an international climate change movement which is working to bring carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere down to 350 parts per million, a relatively safe level. It is essentially a website founded by McKibben and a few undergraduate students at Middlebury College in order to promote social action to be taken to slow the rate of global warming.

On Monday, October 19th, members of Northwood’s Sustainability Committee and AP Environmental Science Class taught by Mr. Tyler Eaton drove to nearby Keene Valley to hear Mr. McKibben speak. The talk was captivating. People from all across this area of the Adirondacks packed into Keene Central School’s auditorium for an hour and a half to hear him. He discussed the founding of 350.org, the growing divestment movement, the very first International Day for Climate Action, and his response to the recent release of Exxon-Mobil’s scientific data about climate change from the 1970s. The International Day for Climate Change began on October 24, 2009 when over 5,245 different groups organized marches, sit-ins, rallies, bike-rides, and other forms of nonviolent protest in 181 countries in order to sway delegates’ decisions at the December 2009 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The images he presented were absolutely eye-opening. People in countries that were so underdeveloped they could not possibly be contributing significant amounts of carbon into the air stood up for themselves against industrial nations to lower global carbon emissions.

The entire talk completely changed my perspective on climate change. Before it, I knew it was happening, it was bad, and I probably should have been doing something about it, but I never had any reason to. After hearing Bill McKibben’s passion, drive, and zeal toward this movement, I too became more driven to do something for the environment. Northwood’s Sustainability Committee is now working towards building and maintaining a vegetable garden on the grounds, replacing the cleaning chemicals used by the maintenance staff with more bio-friendly ones, and developing a better recycling program within the school. What are you doing to save your home?

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