Bill McKibben gives us one more reason to get over ourselves
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
Christina Williams is the editor of Sustainable Business Oregon.
Bill McKibben swung through town yesterday on the second stop of his 21-city Do the Math tour — a nationwide swing of events and speeches designed to raise awareness of what the environmentalist and writer holds as a simple, mathematical truth.
McKibben, who runs the nonprofit 350.org, figures that the world can burn 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide and stay below two degrees centigrade of global warming. Anything more would put the world at risk. What he cites as the problem is that fossil fuel corporations — which wield heavy influence in Washington, D.C. — now have 2,795 gigatons in their reserves. That they plan to burn it, McKibben says, makes fossil fuel companies the tobacco companies of our time.
His Rolling Stone article on the topic, published in July, went viral. And right now— after an election that gives anyone who worries about climate change at least a glimmer of hope for some policy change to mitigate it and after a summer and fall of attention-grabbing heat, drought and storms — McKibben is working to catalyze.
Before his event at First Congregational United Church of Christ, McKibben rubbed shoulders with a hundred or so friends of Ecotrust Thursday afternoon at The Natural Capital Center's conference room.
"Portland is one of the places in the world that shows us what we need to do," McKibben told me. He lives in Vermont, another of those places.
But as seriously as Portland takes sustainability, as crowded as our farmers markets are, as well-marked as our bicycle lanes are, as earnestly as we're working to reduce the region's emissions, McKibben warned us: "It's not enough."
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