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Climate Change

McKibben on Climate Change: “We Don’t Have a Movement”

1:06 PM EST on January 17, 2007

If the melting of Greenland can't make the American people pay attention to global warming, can anything? Environmentalist Bill McKibben, whose The End of Nature was one of the first books to raise the alarm on climate change for a general audience in 1989, is hoping that "Step It Up 2007," a day of rallies planned for April 14, will at least get things started.

Writing on Grist, McKibben admits that despite overwhelming scientific evidence, popular momentum on the issue is lacking.

[W]e don't have a movement, the largest rally yet held in the U.S. about global warming drew a thousand people. If we're going to make the kind of change we need in the short time left us, we need something that looks like the civil rights movement, and we need it now. Changing light bulbs just isn't enough.

So pitch in. A few of us are trying to organize a nationwide day of hundreds and hundreds of rallies on April 14. We hope to have gatherings in every state, and in many of America's most iconic places: on the levees in New Orleans, on top of the melting glaciers on Mt. Rainier, even underwater on the endangered coral reefs off Key West.

We need rallies outside churches, along the tide lines in our coastal cities, in cornfields and forests and on statehouse steps.

Every group will be saying the same thing: Step it up, Congress! Enact immediate cuts in carbon emissions, and pledge an 80% reduction by 2050. No half measures, no easy compromise, the time has come to take the real actions that can stabilize our climate.

McKibben reports that early interest in the project is high, but there are only three tiny gatherings listed so far in New York City. And even if people show up at the individual locations at the appointed hour, will it be possible to get any sense of "a movement" from rallies that are spread so thin?

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