Activist McKibben Discusses Climate Change, Keystone XL Pipeline in Louisville

by Erica Peterson on November 3, 2011

Writer and environmental activist Bill McKibben says it’s not too late to reverse the effects of climate change. McKibben made the comments in a speech to the Louisville Rotary Club today as part of the Festival of Faiths.

McKibben has been in the news most recently for leading a movement opposing the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring oil from Canada’s tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico. He says building that pipeline would release the second-largest pool of carbon dioxide on earth, and have destructive consequences for the planet.

Audio MP3

With devastating flooding and hurricanes increasing in frequency all over the world, McKibben says there should be no more public disagreement that climate change isn’t real.

“It is not a partisan battle, it is not an ideological battle,” he said. “It is a battle about what science is telling us about the future.”

Though environmental activists like McKibben who engage in civil disobedience have often been called “radicals,” McKibben argues that the country’s real radicals are oil and coal executives.

“In pursuit of their ends, they are willing to alter the chemical composition of the one atmosphere that we have in ways scientists have assured us will be dangerous,” he said.

In a nod to the Festival of Faith’s theme—which this year is ‘the sacred air’—McKibben said there’s nothing more important than keeping the earth’s air clean and doing what it’s meant to do.

He noted that what’s holding up climate-friendly innovations in energy and transportation isn’t a lack of available technology, but a lack of political will.

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