ESF Speaker Bill McKibben on Climate Change: "The Biggest Thing Human Beings Have Ever Done"

Apr 17, 2017

SUNY ESF welcomes Bill McKibben, author of "The End of Nature" and founder of international environmental organization 350.org, as keynote speaker Monday, April 17th to present an Earth Week lecture titled "Turning Up the Heat: Physics and Politics in a Warming World" open to the public.
Credit John Smith / WAER News

One of America’s leading environmentalists says it’s just not fair to push climate change impacts – or finding solutions – off onto the younger generations. Bill McKibben was keynote speaker today to launch Earth Week activities at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. McKibben calls it an honor to be speaking at ESF …and says young people are rallying to the cause. 

“That’s it, we can’t; it’s not fair to demand that young people solve this problem. They need the rest of us working hard. We’re the first generations that are going to leave the planet worse for our children than we found it,” McKibben proclaims. “And that’s a bad thing.”

He reviewed some of the stark impacts of climate change that he’s witnessed. Coral reefs in many island areas have been stunted or killed from warmer ocean waters. Half the sea ice in the arctic has disappeared.  And he fears a major humanitarian crisis could be sparked by drought in Africa. 

McKibben talks about climate change, its impact on the younger generations, and the responsibility this brings about for both the the older generations and the youth.
Credit John Smith / WAER News

McKibben also addressed policies in Washington that seek to boost jobs in mining industries, calling President Trump “a tool of the fossil fuel industry.”

“There are far more people putting on solar panels than mining coal – hell, there are more people who work at Arby’s Roast Beef Sandwiches in America than mining coal – so the idea that this is a central preoccupation of our economy is as silly as everything else Trump says.”

Bill McKibben wrote the book “The End of Nature” 30 years ago, warning about climate change. He adds the impacts detailed in the book are taking place much faster than scientists predicted at the time. He also founded 350.org, whose goal is to build "a global climate movement," focusing on climate-focused campaigns and projects.