Bill McKibben

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Listen to Bill McKibben’s conversation on Lessons From Lockdown: The Podcast

Key Takeaways:

While it’s difficult to have much environmental action during lockdown, people are finding ways to stay in the fight and keep things moving

We’re going through a deeper shock to the system than anything that’s happened in our lifetimes and there’s no silver linings to that, but there are lessons to be learned for the climate crisis:

  • You better take physical reality as real; you can’t manipulate physics and chemistry and biology – they do what they do
  • If you have to do something, do it fast; we’re in the midst of a very large crisis, for which speed is very much of the essence
  • Social solidarity really matters; people come together to solve problems when government and markets fail

The one good thing (if you can call it that) is that for once the same crisis is affecting everyone on the planet. We’re in this together, so there should be joint action as we come out of it.

We’re coming out of the pandemic with a large number of unemployed people. We need to replace the fossil fuel system we live under with one that runs on the sun and the wind. This is the right moment for a Green New Deal to put people back to work – honourable work that desperately needs doing.


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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, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized twenty thousand 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 BooksNational Geographic, and Rolling Stone. He lives in the mountains above Lake Champlain with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, where he spends as much time as possible outdoors . In 2014, biologists honored him by naming a new species of woodland gnat— Megophthalmidia mckibbeni–in his honor.

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