Group Think: The opposite of traditional ''groupthink,'' our Group Think poses one question to a variety of smart thinkers for insightful perspectives on relevant issues.

Gutcheck Time on Climate Change

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Bill McKibben

This will be gutcheck time for the president. Scared by the fossil fuel industry and its electoral power, he’s given them most of what they wanted in his first term. But now we’ll find out if he actually gets the crisis that climate change has become. The first and purest test will be the Keystone Pipeline. He said a year ago it needed further study — that year was the warmest in American history, with one disaster after another. And it saw Canadian activists block plans for a Pacific pipeline. So now the fate of the tarsands rests largely on his shoulders — as James Hansen of NASA, his top federal climatologist said last year, tap it heavily and it’s “game over for the climate.”

Bill McKibben explained the catastrophic new math of climate change in a Q&A with us in July. He  is the author of a dozen books about the environment, beginning with The End of Nature in 1989, regarded as the first book for a general audience on climate change. He is a founder of the grassroots climate campaign

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  • A.O.W.M.

    Thank you, Mr. McKibben. A friend of mine who lives in Nassau County, NY had the closest of close calls. A tree fell on his house, bounced off it without caving in the roof, and landed on his driveway between his two cars. The NYC metro area got slammed much harder than that. He is now a concerned environmentalist. It’s unfortunate that it took this to change his mind (the disappearing Maldive Islands wasn’t a tip-off?), but it’s now or never. And if anybody wants to look at ‘never’, they need but see what’s left of the Jersey shore. Let’s get to work.

  • sandy

    yet another reason to have renewable energy sources developed and delivered to each household. We must act now on a variety of fronts to make sure that 10,20,30 years from
    now the renewables are as common to our lives as is sliced bread.

  • PublicAdvocate

    Scared??? What are you thinking, McKibben? Haven’t you been watching what Obama has been doing for the past 4 years?

    This cognitive dissonance of reality is demoralizing. How many times are we, as a nation, going to read or hear, otherwise intelligent people, ignoring reality in order to kiss the back side of a devotee of Wall Street? Isn’t it enough to recognize the trend established by Obama to further eclipse everything Bush/Cheney brought on the country?

    It’s no wonder we’re in such dire condition. “Progressives” are leading the white washing of the damage Obama has been for the nation. We’re doomed.

  • Dee Lady Dee

    A reply to Public Advocate. Have you heard of the U.N Agenda 21? This is what is happening to America. You can learn more by going to the Library of Congress at The following is an item that may strike your interest. H.Con.Res. 500-Concurrent resolution expressing the sense of the Congress that the President (Bush in 1992), acting through the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Organizations , take such steps as may be necessary to place the question of — and there is much more to get your jouces flowing. Or you can just Google UN Agenda 21. This info may not help you but at least you’ll know what is happening and knowledge is power.

  • Anonymous

    It’s up to us to keep up the pressure on the president and Congress. Obama said as much in his victory speech, stating that our involvement doesn’t end at the voting booth. With enormous pressure from special interests, Congress and the president need to see significant public support to change policies. Right now necessary wind production tax credits are in danger of not being renewed which could result in a $10 billion drop in investments and 37,000 layoffs. Write your Congresspeople. Renewables averaged only $370 million/year in subsidies between 1994 and 2009 while oil and gas averaged $4.86 billion/year (today’s dollars) from 1918 to 2009; coal got between $3.2 – $5.4 billion in 2008 alone. Obama is an intelligent guy who likely doesn’t want to go down in history as the president who sat on his hands as climate change accelerated.

  • nan

    I am happy Obama won. As a women who lived in the 1950’s and was addressed as Mrs. [my husband’s first and last name], I did not want to go back to that attitude toward women.

  • Winter Green

    Is there hope? We have to refocus our employment into healing our environment with jobs such as these (created in the millions)

    1) Build millions of miles of bike and horse paths
    2) Replant diversified forests, grasslands and hedgerows
    3) Tear down derelict buildings and parking lots and plant urban farms
    4) Retrofit all buildings
    5) Build light rail and trollies
    6) Clean up every creek, stream, river, lake, beach
    7) Put solar hot water and micro wind on all buildings
    8) Develop clean energy
    9) Put water catchment on all buildings
    10) Modernize water, sewage systems
    11) Put all power lines under ground

    Then we have to realize we are living in a great renewal and that requires us to renew, regenerate, regrow, redesign, re-envision, recreate, replant, repair, refurbish, rejuvenate, revitalize, refresh, revive, reinvigorate, rearrange, rededicate, re-energize, re-mobilize, reorient, re-stimulate,reignite, reapply, redo, re-stage, reboot, rediscover, re-motivate, reemerge, rebuild and re-love ourselves, our planet, each other, all species and our Commons.

  • Sandy Kelley

    MKibben is highly subsidized by George Soros, nasty little Jew commie who confiscated his own people’s belongings in WWII. Willingly. Gleefully. And openly hostile to Capitalism. Character problem? And McKibben is his disciple.

  • Sandy Kelley

    Groupthink? That describes the Democrats, completely.