Famous Quotes & Sayings

Bill McKibben Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 100 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Bill McKibben.

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In 50 years, no one will care about the fiscal cliff or the Euro crisis. They'll just ask, "So the Arctic melted, and then what did you do?" — Bill McKibben

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We can't bankrupt Exxon. But we can politically and morally bankrupt them. — Bill McKibben

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It drives me crazy to see so much of this planet's life so casually endangered. The first steps are so easy (drive smaller cars, for instance) that it's very hard to understand why we haven't taken them. But I know that this is the issue our generation will be judged by. — Bill McKibben

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If we were built, what were we built for? ... Why do we have this amazing collection of sinews, senses, and sensibilities? Were we really designed in order to recline on the couch, extending our wrists perpendicular to the floor so we can flick through the television's offerings? Were we really designed in order to shop some more so the economy can grow some more? Or were we designed to experience the great epiphanies that come from contact with each other and with the natural world? — Bill McKibben

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We can no longer imagine that we are part of something larger than ourselves - that is what all this boils down to. — Bill McKibben

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Until it's understood to involve justice for those in poverty, a future for generations yet unborn, and a commitment to the rest of creation, it's unlikely we'll be able to overcome the status quo. — Bill McKibben

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We're clearly not going to stop global warming at this point. We've already raised the temperature of the planet one degree. We've got another degree in the pipeline from carbon we've already emitted. What we're talking about now is whether we're going to have a difficult, difficult century, or an impossible one. — Bill McKibben

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In the United States, cheap fossil fuel has eroded communities. We're the first people with no real practical need for each other. Everything comes from a great distance through anonymous and invisible transactions. We've taken that to be a virtue, but it's as much a curse. Americans are not very satisfied with their lives, and the loss of community is part of that. — Bill McKibben

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If we continue to think of ourselves mostly as consumers, it's going to be very hard to bring our environmental troubles under control. But it's also going to be very hard to live the rounded and joyful lives that could be ours. This is a subversive volume in all the best ways! — Bill McKibben

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Without a movement pressing for change, there's little hope. We've got to work the political system to make this happen fast. The physics and chemistry are daunting. The resources on the other side are very large. — Bill McKibben

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The ability to write compelling emails may be the single most useful talent an organizer can possess. — Bill McKibben

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Community is as endangered by surplus as it is by deficit. If there is too much money floating around it enables people to have no need of each other. — Bill McKibben

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The popular notion is that Americans are addicted to fossil fuels, but I find that's not true; most people would be happy to power their lives with anything else. — Bill McKibben

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The earth is a museum of divine intent. — Bill McKibben

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The religious environmental movement is potentially key to dealing with the greatest problem humans have ever faced, and it has never been captured with more breadth and force than in RENEWAL. I hope this movie is screened in church basements and synagogue social halls across the country, and that it moves many more people of faith off the fence and into action. — Bill McKibben

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If you told Exxon or Lukoil that, in order to avoid wrecking the climate, they couldn't pump out their reserves, the value of their companies would plummet. — Bill McKibben

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We speak often, and sentimentally, of being 'enchanted' by the natural world. But what if it's the other way around? What if we are enchanted, literally, by the human world we live in? That seems entirely more likely - that the consumer world amounts to a kind of lulling spell, chanted tunefully and eternally by the TV, the billboard, the suburb. A spell that convinces us that the things we want most from the world are comfort, convenience, security. A spell that by now we sing to each other. A spell that, should it start to weaken, we try to strengthen with medication, with consumption, with noise. A slight frantic enchantment, one that has to get louder all the time to block out the troubling question constantly forming in the back of our minds: 'Is this all there is? — Bill McKibben

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Advent: the time to listen for footsteps - you can't hear footsteps when
you're running yourself. — Bill McKibben

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The laws of Congress and the laws of physics have grown increasingly divergent, and the laws of physics are not likely to yield. — Bill McKibben

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There is an urgent need to stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry, dramatically reduce wasted energy, and significantly shift our power supplies from oil, coal, and natural gas to wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewable energy sources. — Bill McKibben

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A voluntary simplification of life-styles is not beyond our abilities, but it is probably outside our desires. — Bill McKibben

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When you go to China and the developing world, people understand more clearly the dangers that are coming at them because they're living closer to the margin. They don't have any of the false sense of invulnerability that Americans have. People from developing countries also feel that it's their right, if you're talking in terms of justice, to use fossil fuels like we did for a hundred years to get rich. It's hard for them to give up that vision. — Bill McKibben

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Only in relatively recent times have people decided that "because I want to" is sufficient reason for annoying others. — Bill McKibben

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Here is a statistic that does matter: Three quarters of Americans believe the Bible teaches that "God helps those who help themselves." That is, three out of four Americans believe that this uber-American idea, a notion at the core of our current individualist politics and culture, which was in fact uttered by Ben Franklin, actually appears in Holy Scripture. The thing is, not only is Franklin's wisdom not biblical; it's counter-biblical. Few ideas could be further from the gospel message, with its radical summons to love of neighbor. On this essential matter, most Americans - most American Christians - are simply wrong, as if 75 percent of American scientists believed that Newton proved gravity causes apples to fly up. — Bill McKibben

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The real negotiation is between humans on the one hand and chemistry and physics on the other. And chemistry and physics, unfortunately, don't bargain. — Bill McKibben

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Alone among businesses, the fossil-fuel industry is allowed to dump its main waste, carbon dioxide, for free — Bill McKibben

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A world where one tenth of the population gets to be extremely wealthy, and six tenths very poor, is not, in the long run, a stable place — Bill McKibben

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These new technologies are not yet inevitable. But if they blossom fully into being, freedom may irrevocably perish. This is a fight not only for the meaning of our individual lives, but for the meaning of our life together. — Bill McKibben

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TV, and the culture it anchors, masks and drowns out the subtle and vital information contact with the real world once provided. There are lessons, enormous lessons, lessons that may be crucial to the planet's persistence as a green and diverse place and also to the happiness of it's inhabitants-that nature teaches and TV can't. — Bill McKibben

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We believe that we live in the 'age of information,' that there has been an information 'explosion,' an information 'revolution.' While in a certain narrow sense this is the case, in many important ways just the opposite is true. We also live at a moment of deep ignorance, when vital knowledge that humans have always possessed about who we are and where we live seems beyond our reach. An Unenlightenment. An age of missing information, — Bill McKibben

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Money supplants skill; it's possession allows us to become happily stupid. — Bill McKibben

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When you are in a hole, stop digging! — Bill McKibben

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Increasingly we live in a world filled with the equivalents of deadly garage-door openers, unnecessary items that offer us mild and insipid comfort at the price of a dangerous and uncomfortable planet, and at the price of any real relationship to the physical world. if you live in a suburban home and commute to a parking garage somewhere, that ten seconds of opening the garage door(manually) might be nearly the only rain you ever feel. — Bill McKibben

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"Science," of course, replaced "God" as a guiding concept for many people after Darwin. Or, really, the two were rolled up into a sticky ball. To some degree this was mindless worship of a miracle future, the pursuit of which has landed us in the fix we now inhabit. — Bill McKibben

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Everyone knows, at some level, that the sharp line between "good weather" and "bad weather" is a fiction, that we need rain as surely as we need sun. — Bill McKibben

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There is no ideal Christmas; only the one Christmas you decide to make as a reflection of your values, desires, affections, traditions. — Bill McKibben

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There's no huge mystery. If you dig up huge amounts of carbon, huge amounts of ancient biology, hundreds of millions of year's worth of ancient biology, and flush it into the atmosphere in a matter of decades, then it stands to reason that we're going to have enormous effects, and now we can see those effects all around us. — Bill McKibben

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When we think about global warming at all, the arguments tend to be ideological, theological and economic. — Bill McKibben

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Pity the poor senator or representative trying to stay alive in the political jungle. At every turn, there's a danger: a constituent who actually wants something done. Or worse, a campaign donor who might be offended by that something. — Bill McKibben

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We've been given a warning by science, and a wake-up call by nature; it is up to us now to heed them. — Bill McKibben

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We have assumed control where once we worked with what we were given. — Bill McKibben

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The television culture celebrates incompetence. — Bill McKibben

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If [a student's] college's endowment portfolio has fossil-fuel stock, then their educations are being subsidized by investments that guarantee they won't have much of a planet on which to make use of their degree. — Bill McKibben

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These things are happening in large measure because of us. We in this country burn 25 percent of the world's fossil fuel, create 25 percent of the world's carbon dioxide. It is us - it is the affluent lifestyles that we lead that overwhelmingly contribute to this problem. And to call it a problem is to understate what it really is. Which is a crime. Crime against the poorest and most marginalized people on this planet. We've never figured out, though God knows we've tried, a more effective way to destroy their lives. — Bill McKibben

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If the movie had ended in Hollywood fashion, the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009 would have marked the culmination of the global fight to slow a changing climate. — Bill McKibben

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There's no happy ending where we prevent climate change any more. Now the question is, is it going to be a miserable century or an impossible one, and what comes after that. — Bill McKibben

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My goal was to have as many of the primary sources as I could made available for people to look at and understand. Climate change is probably the most important thing that's ever happened, and yet people's understanding of it and its history remains a little fuzzy. — Bill McKibben

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If we all used clotheslines, we could save 30 million tons of coal a year, or shut down 15 nuclear power plants. And you don't have to wait to start. Yours could be up by this afternoon. To be specific, buy 50 feet of clothesline and a $3 bag of clothespins and become a solar energy pioneer. — Bill McKibben

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What makes us different? We're the creature that can decide not to do something that we are capable of doing. — Bill McKibben

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The models that have been constructed agree that when, as has been predicted, the level of carbon dioxide or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases doubles from pre-Industrial Revolution concentrations, the global average temperature will increase, and that the increase will be 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius or 3 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit ... In Dallas, for instance, a doubled level of carbon dioxide and other gases like methane, would increase the number of days a year with temperatures above 100 degrees from 19 to 78 each year. — Bill McKibben

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What we're talking about is the endless, gullible elevation of necessary levels of comfort and status and everything else at the complete expense of all around us. It's going to take us a long time to learn how to climb down a little bit from the heights on which we have put ourselves. — Bill McKibben

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If it's wrong to wreck the planet, it's wrong to profit from the wreckage. — Bill McKibben

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We're not at the point of trying to stop global warming; it's too late for that. We're trying to keep it from becoming a complete and utter calamity — Bill McKibben

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We can either save the planet from catastrophic warming, or protect fossil fuel CEOs. Not both. Do the math(s) — Bill McKibben

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Where people aren't as deeply reliant on fossil fuel as in the United States, it's far easier for them to imagine change on this scale. When you go to Europe, they're much more ready. They use half the amount of energy per capita that we use. They can imagine using less than that. They see the benefits. They're ready to go. — Bill McKibben

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Climate change is the single biggest thing that humans have ever done on this planet. The one thing that needs to be bigger is our movement to stop it. — Bill McKibben

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The Old Testament contains in many places, but especially in the book of Job, one of the most far-reaching defenses ever written of wilderness, of nature free from the hand of man. The argument gets at the heart of what the loss of nature will mean to us ... God seems to be insisting that we are not the center of the universe, that he is quite happy if it rains where there are no people - that God is quite happy with places where there are no people, a radical departure from our most ingrained notions. — Bill McKibben

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The end of nature sours all my material pleasures. The prospect of living in a genetically engineered world sickens me. And yet it is toward such a world that our belief in endless material advancement hurries us. As long as that desire drives us, here is no way to set limits. — Bill McKibben

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TV makes it so easy to postpone living for another half hour. — Bill McKibben

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The seasons don't matter to most of us anymore except as spectacles. In my county and in many places around this part of the nation, the fair that once marked the harvest now takes place in late August, while tourist dollars are still in heavy circulation. Why celebrate the harvest when you harvest every week with a shopping cart? — Bill McKibben

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What you do every day is what forms your mind and precious few of us can or would spend most days outdoors. — Bill McKibben

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With each month that passes, a solar panel gets 2 or 3 percent cheaper. So while we're holding the fossil fuel industry in check, the engineers in the renewable energy world are undercutting them from the other side. — Bill McKibben

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If there's horrible flooding in Pakistan or a horrible heat wave in Texas, we're no longer able to call it an act of God, or a natural disaster, or something like that, the way we could have through all of human history until 35 or 40 years ago. — Bill McKibben

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The technology we need most badly is the technology of community, the knowledge about how to cooperate to get things done. — Bill McKibben

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The world hasn't ended, but the world as we know it has-even if we don't quite know it yet. — Bill McKibben

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The roof of my house is covered in solar panels. When I'm home, I'm a pretty green fellow. — Bill McKibben

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Fossil fuel is very seductive stuff. [John Maynard] Keynes once said that, as far as he could tell, the average standard of living from the beginning of human history to the middle of the eighteenth century had perhaps doubled. Not much had changed, and then we found coal and gas and oil and everything changed. We're reaping the result of that, both ecologically and socially. — Bill McKibben

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A third of summer sea ice in the Arctic is gone, the oceans are 30 percent more acidic, and since warm air holds more water vapor than cold, the atmosphere over the oceans is a shocking five percent wetter, loading the dice for devastating floods. — Bill McKibben

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Whenever anyone challenges anything, the powers that be try to paint them as extremists or radicals or whatever. And I think that's actually nonsense. — Bill McKibben

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Our weird problem is an abundance of resources and a shortage of hard economic reasons not to use them. — Bill McKibben

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Often when I'm on TV, they'll ask what are the three most important things for people to do. I know they want me to say that people should change their light bulbs. I say the number one thing is to organize politically; number two, do some political organizing; number three, get together with your neighbors and organize; and then if you have energy left over from all of that, change the light bulb. — Bill McKibben

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But tolerance by itself can be a cover for moral laziness. — Bill McKibben

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Last year, the USDA said for the first time in 150 years that there were more farms in America instead of fewer. I think that's the single most hopeful statistic I know. — Bill McKibben

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Our criteria is that it's okay to invest in companies so long as they stop lobbying in Washington, stop exploring for new hydrocarbons, and sit down with every one else to plan to keep 80 percent of the reserves in the ground. — Bill McKibben

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TV is sometimes accused of encouraging fantasies. Its real problem, though, is that it encourages-enforces, almost-a brute realism. It is anti-Utopian in the extreme. We're discouraged from thinking that, except for a few new products, there might be a better way of doing things. — Bill McKibben

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In fact, corporations are the infants of our society - they know very little except how to grow (though they're very good at that), and they howl when you set limits. Socializing them is the work of politics. It's about time we took it up again. — Bill McKibben

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We have built a greenhouse, a human greenhouse, where once there bloomed a sweet and wild garden. — Bill McKibben

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Remember ... this year has already seen more billion-dollar weather-related disasters than any year in US history. Last year was the warmest ever recorded on planet Earth. Arctic sea ice is near all-time record lows. Record floods from Pakistan to Queensland to the Mississippi basin; record drought from the steppes of Russia to the plains of Texas ... This is what climate change looks like in its early stages. — Bill McKibben

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The movers and shakers on our planet, aren't the billionaires and generals, they are the incredible numbers of people around the world filled with love for neighbor and for the earth who are resisting, remaking, restoring, renewing and revitalising. — Bill McKibben

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In reality, climate change is actually the biggest thing that's going on every single day. — Bill McKibben

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According to new research emerging from many quarters that our continued devotion to growth above all is, on balance, making our lives worse, both collectively and individually — Bill McKibben

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We, all of us in the First World, have participated in something of a binge, a half century of unbelievable prosperity and ease. We may have had some intuition that it was a binge and the earth couldn't support it, but aside from the easy things (biodegradable detergent, slightly smaller cars) we didn't do much. We didn't turn our lives around to prevent it. Our sadness is almost an aesthetic response - appropriate because we have marred a great, mad, profligate work of art, taken a hammer to the most perfectly proportioned of sculptures. — Bill McKibben

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You can have a healthy fossil-fuel balance sheet, or a relatively healthy planet — Bill McKibben

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Scientists are telling us that 350 parts per million [of carbon] in the atmosphere is the upper limit. We're at 387 parts per million now, and we're up in that zone where the risk of going past irrevocable tipping points is elevated. It's no different than going to a doctor and learning your cholesterol is too high, and you're at risk for a heart attack. You have to work to lower your cholesterol and hope to get there before the heart attack comes. — Bill McKibben

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Human beings any one of us, and our species as a whole are not all-important, not at the center of the world. That is the one essential piece of information, the one great secret, offered by any encounter with the woods or the mountains or the ocean or any wilderness or chunk of nature or patch of night sky. — Bill McKibben

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Very few people on earth ever get to say: "I am doing, right now, the most important thing I could possibly be doing." If you'll join this fight that's what you'll get to say. — Bill McKibben

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There are times when I can almost feel myself simply being. — Bill McKibben

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I think people who don't know the woods very well sometimes imagine it as a kind of undifferentiated mass of greenery, an endless continuation of the wall of trees they see lining the road. And I think they wonder how it could hold anyone's interest for very long, being all so much the same. But in truth I have a list of a hundred places in my own town I haven't been yet. Quaking bogs to walk on; ponds I've never seen in the fall (I've seen them in the summer - but that's a different pond). That list gets longer every year, the more I learn, and doubtless it will grow until the day I die. So many glades; so little time. — Bill McKibben

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Management of anything as complicated as a woods requires more humility than comes easily to our species, at least in its American incarnation. — Bill McKibben

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Global warming is no longer a philosophical threat, no longer a future threat, no longer a threat at all. It's our reality. — Bill McKibben

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What sets wilderness apart in the modern day is not that it's dangerous (it's almost certainly safer than any town or road) or that it's solitary (you can, so they say, be alone in a crowded room) or full of exotic animals (there are more at the zoo). it's that five miles out in the woods you can't buy anything. — Bill McKibben

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Because the financial power of the fossil-fuel industry is so great it can, and has, delayed any real action of the climate issues almost everywhere. — Bill McKibben

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All the things that we've done as a species have had a limited scope. We're talking about melting the ice caps, raising the level of the seas dramatically, changing the distribution of every other species on Earth, perhaps wiping out one-third or half of them. The changes at work are geologic in scale. The level of change required to deal with it is enormous, too. It will require change in every country. It will require a degree of global cooperation that we haven't seen before. — Bill McKibben

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There is a tendency at every important but difficult crossroad to pretend that it's not really there. — Bill McKibben

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I would like to draw three main conclusions. Number one, the earth is warmer in 1988 than at any time in the history of instrumental measurements. Number two, the global warming is now large enough that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship to the greenhouse effect. And number three, our computer climate simulations indicate that the greenhouse effect is already large enough to begin to effect the probability of extreme events such as summer heat waves. — Bill McKibben

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It's a quiet revolution begun by ordinary people with the stuff of our daily lives. — Bill McKibben

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Most of the men and women who vote in Congress each year to continue subsidies have taken campaign donations from big energy companies. — Bill McKibben

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The real tight interface is between the book and the reader-the world of the book is plugged right into your brain, never mind the [virtual reality] bodysuit. — Bill McKibben

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We build schools and give government loans and grants to college kids; for those of us who are parents, tuition will often be the last big subsidy we give the children we've raised. — Bill McKibben

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We use TV as we use tranquilizers- to even things out, to blot out unpleasantness, to dilute confusion, distress, unhappiness, loneliness. — Bill McKibben