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A Conversation with Bill McKibben

OPB | Sept. 11, 2009 9 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 8:59 p.m.

Remember when climate change was called global warming? Remember when global warming was called the greenhouse effect? Bill McKibben does. He’s been sounding a clarion warning call for humans to curb our carbon dioxide emissions — or else — since the late 1980s. If by now his call is ever more dire, it’s at least less lonely: he has been joined by an international chorus of scientists, governments, defense wonks, and insurance companies. (Not to mention the Nobel Foundation.)

McKibben will be in town to promote his newish campaign: 350.org. The basic idea is to create a global movement around a worrying fact: scientists have identified 350 parts per million of CO2 as the safe upper limit of carbon in our atmosphere. (The worrying part is that we’re around 390ppm right now…)

We’ll talk about 350.org, but we’ll also take a broader look at McKibben’s 20 years in the environmental spotlight. We’ll look at what McKibben thinks individuals can do to reverse (or at least retard) climate change — and what can only be done on the geo-political stage. We’ll ask McKibben what effect an increasing global population has on global temperature. And we’ll find out what he’s learned about effective messaging in his more than two decades of ardent environmental activism.

And we’ll bring in your questions and comments. Have you been reading Bill McKibben since his 1989 debut, The End of Nature? Have you just discovered him? Did you see him on the Colbert Report? What questions do you have about the science or the politics of climate change?

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