Environmentalists Bill McKibben, by way of inviting everyone to a mass climate action demonstration in New York on Sept. 20-21, had withering words for the world’s leaders, who he says are failing to take urgent action against climate change.
In a piece in the June 5 Rolling Stone magazine, McKibben calls out President Obama for a statement he made to The New Yorker earlier this year.
Obama, waxing pragmatic about his administration’s accomplishments and shortcomings, said: “At the end of the day, we’re part of a long-running story. We just try to get our paragraph right.” And “I think we are fortunate at the moment that we do not face a crisis of the scale and scope that Lincoln or FDR faced.”
McKibben must have done a slow burn when he read that. But he responds reasonably in the RS piece, and tells Obama that his “paragraph” is shot full of holes when it comes to climate action:
We do, though; we face a crisis as great as any president has ever encountered. Here’s how his paragraph looks so far: Since he took office, summer sea ice in the Arctic has mostly disappeared, and at the South Pole, scientists in May made clear that the process of massive melt is now fully under way, with 10 feet of sea-level rise in the offing. Scientists have discovered the depth of changes in ocean chemistry: that seawater is 30 percent more acidic than just four decades ago, and it’s already causing trouble for creatures at the bottom of the marine food chain. America has weathered the hottest year in its history, 2012, which saw a drought so deep that the corn harvest largely failed. At the moment, one of the biggest states in Obama’s union, California, is caught in a drought deeper than any time since Europeans arrived. Hell, a few blocks south of the U.N. buildings, Hurricane Sandy turned the Lower East Side of New York into a branch of the East River. And that’s just the United States. The world’s scientists earlier this spring issued a 32-volume report explaining exactly how much worse it’s going to get, which is, to summarize, a lot worse even than they’d thought before. It’s not that the scientists are alarmists – it’s that the science is alarming. Here’s how one Princeton scientist summarized the situation for reporters: “We’re all sitting ducks.”
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