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Being Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben

1,124 words

In 1989, young scientist Bill McKibben published the seminal climate change book, The End of Nature. It made him an instant star in the environmental sciences, and in the literary world as well.

Like it did with so many of my generation, the book had a profound effect on me. Among other things, I never forgot the analogy that if the earth was the size of a basketball, the depth of our atmosphere would be the equivalent of a coat of paint. The air we breath, the sky we see … it is not nearly so infinite as it seems.

Though the debate about climate change has always had a partisan aspect, it has in recent years been fully politicized. Right and Left now have their firm stances. Many right of center people like myself, who were onboard with climate change initially, now have doubts. It’s not that we don’t think it’s happening, it’s just hard to believe anything the Left says about it.

And so I recently went to see Bill McKibben do a bookstore appearance to promote his new book. As nice a guy as he is, and as earnest and “aw shucks” as he comes across, he is now in the middle of a bitter culture war. I was curious how he was handling that.

The bookstore was full to capacity. The audience was mostly older, with a sprinkling of young activist types. Bill himself looked like the kindly professor he has become: L. L. Bean sweater, wire-rim glasses, balding philosopher’s skull. He teaches at Middlebury College in Vermont, which is one of the whitest, preppiest campuses in America.

At this event, he was “in conversation” with a local environmentalist who was somewhat overwhelmed to be in his presence. She asked him questions about his life and his new book. He was friendly, warm, humorous. Naturally, he remained committed to environmentalism in all its forms. He was quite enthusiastic about the New Green Deal, which seemed a little radical for a reasonable older guy like himself. But what else was he going to do? He has to support the people in his camp.

About half way through the talk came a key moment. The interviewer asked a question which led McKibben to say something to the effect of: “Climate change and inequality go hand in hand.” This seemed to be the moment the crowd was waiting for. They stirred with anticipation. Climate change and inequality! Finally we were getting to the good stuff.

I leaned forward and carefully listened to his explanation of how inequality and climate change went together. He didn’t really give one. Yes, if you’re uneducated you are less likely to be environmentally conscious. And if you’re rich you can avoid ugly polluted places. But what difference does that make if we’re all going to die?

He then threw in some statistics about the wealthy United States using far more than their fair share of resources. That related to inequality. He said: “An American family uses more energy on January 1, from midnight to midnight, than some African families use in a year.” The crowd gasped at the injustice.

At this point I went into a little reverie imagining what it would be like to be Bill McKibben. It was clear he was fully wedded to his role as the kindly environmentalist. Why mess with a good thing? His peaceful message, first brought to the world in the illustrious pages of The New Yorker —where sections of The End of Nature first appeared—was so sound, so reasonable, so right. He’d been embraced as an American hero from that point onward.

But of course humility is always the best look for a man of science, hero or not. And so he’s spent the last three decades riding his bicycle around Middlebury College, lecturing, writing articles, presenting his message of alarm (but also hope) to a fresh batch of idealistic college kids each year. When not doing that, he travels, attends conferences, and occasionally ventures into the harsher worlds of business or politics where he no doubt must sharpen his message and put a little extra spice into his words of warning. All of these activities he pursues from within the safe boundaries of liberal academic science. He remains a rock star within these parameters. Why would he ever leave?

Near the end of the event, Bill McKibben took questions. Most of these were from blushing acolytes overcome by their moment with the great man.

But then a young activist woman appeared. Her question was simple: what could the climate change movement do to better promote diversity and people of color in their ranks?

Bill McKibben didn’t blink. He’d heard this question before. He started off by making a little joke about being an old white guy himself, which got the crowd chuckling. Then he assured her that he was always eager to step aside and let other people come forward and lead the movement. However, he added, the important thing was for people to work together, that everyone had their part to play, and that unity was the best strategy for protecting our fragile earth.

He then transitioned into the seemingly unrelated subject of population. Back in the 1970s, when he was growing up, population growth had seemed destined to destroy the world. It was environmental science’s most pressing concern. But now in 2019, population had actually stabilized in many regions and in some places was shrinking. Why? The empowerment of women.

McKibben explained further: the more a society encouraged women to educate themselves, to work and pursue careers, the lower the fertility rate became. This had been proven already in developed countries and in the third world would likely be the same, over time. He said: “It turns out women would rather have a job than six kids!” Everyone laughed, the young activist woman among them. A sense of deep satisfaction came over the crowd. Sensing this was the perfect ending, the Q & A was concluded.

Afterward, a crush of people surrounded Bill. He really is a rock star. Even now, thirty years after the book that made him famous. Part of his success is a result of his demeanor, his attitude. He was the perfect man to deliver this message.

As I walked out of the venue, I spotted the young activist woman. She too was surrounded by a gushing group of four or five friends. Though smaller, this group was equally excited. To them, this woman who had bravely spoken truth to power was the real hero of the night. She had made Bill McKibben acknowledge his white privilege and proclaim the importance of female empowerment! To them, that was the real victory of the night.

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15 Comments

  1. Tye Rogerson
    Posted May 17, 2019 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    Very well written, thanks. Remember, McKibben wrote the book “Maybe One” about having smaller families. If his ideas are enacted (as they currently are) then whites will have smaller families, and these are the people who care most about the environment. His ideas are self-defeating.

  2. White Food
    Posted May 17, 2019 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Even my favorite cartoons Stonetoss and Martian Magazine couldn’t have come up with a better SWPL/SJW caricature than McKibben. At least when the Sierra Club sold out on immigration they got some money. Ol’ Billy just got some a dat good ol global eatin’, prepared by our favorite imigants: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/filipino-cuisine-asian-fusion-180954947/

  3. Peter Quint
    Posted May 17, 2019 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Even if third world countries were educated to the level of first world, Caucasian countries, and possessed our standard of living, they would not give a shit about the climate–that is a white concern. Non-whites could care less about the environment! As for the effects of modern society on the climate, we have not been tracking, and recording the weather long enough to know if we are not just observing ordinary, recurring phenomena.

    • Lord Shang
      Posted May 17, 2019 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      Third World overpopulation, in combination with White liberalism, is THE greatest threat to White survival, as well THE #1 environmental issue. If the global population were under 1 billion, the only ecological concerns would involve species and natural beauty conservation, and disposal of radioactive and toxic wastes. Any method (short of mass exterminations, assuming one is Christian) to reduce nonwhite fertility is good – for Whites and the Earth.

      • watcher
        Posted May 18, 2019 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

        Should China have a big slice of its population compulsorily sterilized?

        • Lord Shang
          Posted May 18, 2019 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

          As I’ve stated, I’d like to see a more racio-demographically balanced world: more Whites, vastly fewer nonwhites. I don’t care if vast numbers of Chinese or any other group apart from Whites are sterilized. But neither I nor you nor Trump nor anyone else non-Chinese has any power to impose such a policy. So what’s the point of the question?

          • watcher
            Posted May 19, 2019 at 9:40 am | Permalink

            What’s the point of your proposals since, as you say, no-one will enact them?

  4. nineofclubs
    Posted May 17, 2019 at 1:18 am | Permalink

    A sustainable planet is possible if individual nations manage themselves for the long term.

    I hope that one day, every nation-state will have a stable population, consistent with its carrying capacity and secure within its own borders. A globe of distinct nations, each with its own unique genetic and cultural features – living on a healthy planet.

    Global capitalism destroys established white nations through mass immigration (growth, muh GDP) and economic settings that consign single income working families to poverty, generating below replacement level fertility.

    Fight globalism. End capitalism. Save white nations.

    .

    • Lord Shang
      Posted May 17, 2019 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      Fight globalism. End immigration. Embrace capitalism. Save White nations and the Earth.

  5. Lord Shang
    Posted May 16, 2019 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Thoughts:

    1. McKibben is NOT a “scientist”, as even the most cursory glance at his Wiki page will confirm. “Science journalist” is more accurate; “propagandist” is best.

    2. “Climate change” (what happened to “global warming”? oh, every prediction derived from that hypothesis has so far failed, wildly) may be happening, but it remains a totally unproven scientific theory. McKibben can offer no proof whatsoever, only variously interpretable suggestive data, that climate is changing due to carbon emissions. Until standard scientific truth criteria can be met, we should oppose doing anything at all about carbon emissions.

    2a. Please note: even if carbon emissions are changing the climate, there must be yet further proof that i) this augurs ill for the future; ii) something can be done at reasonable cost to mitigate the problem; iii) that adapting to the hypothesized future climatologically changed circumstances is NOT much less expensive or onerous than reducing carbon missions today; iv) whatever is done wrt the climate is not futilely pursued by Western nations alone, but that other countries (including Earth’s major ecological wrecker, China) equally share in the carbon reduction burden.

    3. This attempt to link climate change with the modal, middle class American lifestyle (one that has been in objective economic {not to mention racial, cultural, sexual, educational, and moral} decline for two generations) under the banner of “global inequality” is pure White/progtard racial self-hatred. White progressivism is now clearly an ersatz religion of psychopathological self-false-witness-bearing unique in the annals of mankind, an evolutionary maladaptation whose conclusion, either functional or perhaps intentional, is White racial extinction. Giving away what remains of White prosperity in the name of “fighting climate change'” (or worse, fighting “carbon inequality”) is no different psychologically from progtards forcing White peoples into sharing our nations, geographies, cultures and polities with masses of nonwhites. It stems from the same inability of an enormous class of insane White evolutionary losers to defend their own legitimate racio-national interests, including basic survival, from external non-military (and perhaps soon that, too) racial aggression. The wages of insanity on Planet Darwin are, of course, death.

    4. McKibben is at least correct that the Third World Population Bomb is real (sorry Wall Street Journal neoconservative and evangelical/Catholic pro-natalist “cornucopianian” propagandists!), and a major (in obvious fact, THE major) ecological threat to the biosphere. Even assuming the validity of the carbon emisions-climate change theory, we could pollute all we could reasonably want (at least of CO2s – maybe not plutonium, or serious toxics) if the Earth had under 1 billion people. He is further correct that women’s empowerment has directly correlated with declining natality.

    5. What every true White Nationalist wants is a) a HUGE increase in the planetary number of Whites, and b) a HUGE decrease in the number of nonwhites. Earth is finite; why not fill it up with OUR superior race (which would be better for us, but also better for Earth)? Given that the West has unfortunately already achieved full “women’s empowerment”, I think we should encourage those politicians we support to work for Third World women’s empowerment. This would allow them to pose as “feminists” and “champions of human rights”, while actually advancing policies whose cumulative effect would be to aid in Western/White/Earth survival.

    6. Global population reduction via global women’s empowerment (along with Western immigration termination, which would have a depressive effect on Third World natality, as the idea of using the West as a “safety valve” for surplus Third World population would become less persuasive) should be the meme that WNs use to counter anti-carbonist propaganda. “Want to save the planet??! Forget Western middle class lifestyle destruction in pursuit of meaningful CO2 emissions. Instead, STOP Third World population growth by empowering women!!”

    • Lord Shang
      Posted May 16, 2019 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      Rereading my comment stupidly AFTER posting, I see numerous typos. Perhaps CC could consider, at some future time, adopting an “edit” function for comments (or is CC banned from services like disqus?).

      Otherwise, btw, I love the layout and design and “theory” of this website. It’s among the very best I have seen for intellectual websites (much better than Occidental Observer, another site I like, but whose layout I find difficult to navigate).

    • watcher
      Posted May 17, 2019 at 2:49 am | Permalink

      China produces millions of tons of CO2 and shall continue long into the future, eh, ‘Lord Shang’? The U.N. and Bill Gates et al. already promotes women’s empowerment in the Third World. Should David Duke or Jared Taylor become the new Kurtz or Jim Jones? Pro-whites must focus on white issues not get side-tracked.

      • Lord Shang
        Posted May 17, 2019 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

        No, Duke and Taylor should focus on White Awakening. But US conservative politicians, esp Presidents, absolutely should focus first, on stopping immigration, but then, among other foreign policy issues, on Third World women’s empowerment as a key node for long term White and planetary survival. Of course, all foreign aid should be terminated, except for prophylactics, which it is in our long term interest generously to provide.

  6. Stronza
    Posted May 16, 2019 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Sure, equality will lead to an earth in better shape – when we are all living paleolithic style. But you can’t have billions of people and stone ageism at the same time. High civilization + high tech = the ability of sick and scummy people to survive childhood and live long comfy lives. For anyone to dream of human “equality” (barf) combined with all the comforts we’re accustomed to shows that they are delusional.

  7. DrExCathedra
    Posted May 16, 2019 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    When the BlackPill comes upon me, I frequently use this phrase:

    “Whites: The Most Foolish People On the Planet©”

    All too sadly apt here.

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