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Q&A with Bill McKibben, Lexington native and environmentalist

Posted by Sara Brown  August 26, 2010 09:17 AM

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Nancie Battaglia

Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben, a Lexington native, environmentalist, and writer, will be returning to Lexington Sunday to speak at Cary Hall.  McKibben, the author of several books and a former staff writer at the New Yorker, will be speaking about his new book, "Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet," in which he argues that humans have created a new, practically unrecognizable planet. 

McKibben will be speaking at Cary Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, August 29.  The event, sponsored by the Lexington Global Warming Action Committee and the Lexington Communit Farm Coalition, is free, though seating is limited.  Books will be available for sale and signing.

Your Town Lexington asked McKibben a few questions about Lexington, Eaarth, and climate change.  

Your Town: How often do you come back to Lexington?  Do you have any favorite places that you visit in town? 

Bill McKibben: I come back fairly often--my mother just moved from Lexington to Bedford, but still goes to church in town, and we have many many friends there. For me, the Battle Green is always a special place--spent my summers in high school giving tours there, and I think that at the very least it helped instill in me the idea that patriotism often means dissent.

YT: You’ll be talking about your new book, “Eaarth,” in which you say that earth has changed so much that it is practically a new planet.  What do you hope people take away from the book?

BM: I hope they take away the sense that these huge changes are not something for the future but are happening now--and hence right now is the time to be engaged in the fight.

YT: What everyday things do you recommend people do to better the environment? 

BM: At this point, we're not going to make a big dent in climate change one lightbulb at a time. Instead we're going to need a real political movement. That's why we started 350.org--last year we organized what CNN called 'the most widespread day of political action in the planet's history,' with 5200 demonstrations in 181 countries. But we need to grow this movement bigger and stronger.

YT: You are noted as one of the first people to start writing about global warming.  What do you tell people that are skeptical about this phenomenon? 
 
BM: That they no longer have any real scientific backing--unfortunately, it's awfully clear that we're already causing climate havoc. And if they style themselves conservative, I try to point out what a radical project it is to double carbon concentration in the atmosphere and just wait to see what happens. True conservatives aim for stability. 

YT: Your talk is sponsored by Lexington’s Global Warming Action Committee.  Is Lexington unusual in having this committee?  

BM: It's not unusual--there are local groups the world around--but few are as engaged as the GWAC. When I say we at 350.org "organize" massive demonstrations, it's not really true. We set the date and the theme, but groups like GWAC do the actual work, and they do so much else besides on a local level.

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