By Angela Price
Bill McKibben is certainly not a person you’d expect to find handcuffed and behind bars, but that’s where he found himself in the summer of 2011 after leading the largest civil disobedience action in 30 years, protesting the Keystone XL pipeline in front of the White House. Because the tar sands represent a catastrophic threat to communities, the protesters’ plea to President Obama urged him to demonstrate real climate leadership by rejecting the requested permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and instead focus on developing safe, clean energy.
“Whatever color you are, the green movement is your movement. I was proud to go to jail with Bill McKibben as a fellow protester against the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Julian Bond.
On Sept. 14 at 7 p.m., we will have the opportunity to hear McKibben speak in the auditorium of the Old Administration Building at Fresno City College. McKibben will be on a West Coast tour with his new book Oil and Honey and has graciously agreed to speak in Fresno.
His book tells of his ongoing personal and global story of the struggle to build and preserve a sustainable planet. McKibben has recognized that urgent action is needed if solutions are to be found. Some will come at the local level, where he joins forces with a Vermont beekeeper raising his hives as part of the growing trend toward local food. Other solutions will come from a much larger fight against the fossil fuel industry as a whole.
McKibben believes that one way to tackle the fossil fuel industry is to encourage students to urge their universities to divest from fossil fuel companies. And today, college students are doing that, much as they did to overturn apartheid in South Africa. Fossil fuel divestment campaigns now exist at more than 47 colleges and universities nationwide.
McKibben has not only written widely about the impact of global warming, but he is also a founder of the grassroots climate campaign 350.org. Its goal is to build a global grassroots movement to raise awareness of climate change and confront climate change denial; 15,000 rallies have taken place in 189 countries since 2009. Leading scientists believe that 350 is the number that was the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide, measured in parts per million in our atmosphere. For the first time in human history, in May of this year the concentration of this greenhouse gas surpassed 400 parts per million.
So, if the pictures of those towering wildfires and deaths in Colorado, the increase in devastating hurricanes such as Hurricane Sandy, the recent Oklahoma tornados or the Midwest drought haven’t yet convinced you, come to hear McKibben speak on Sept. 14. The event is free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible. For more information, call the Fresno Center for Nonviolence at 559-237-3223 or e-mail Angela Price at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Angela Price is the development director of the Fresno Center for Nonviolence. Contact her at email@example.com or 559-435-6383.