“Heroes of the Environment” gang up on Bill McKibben

7 thoughts on ““Heroes of the Environment” gang up on Bill McKibben”

  1. McKibben has a distinct disadvantage, he is constrained by compassion. BI’s statement expresses outrage at the idea that these nations have the right to exist. McKibben is unwilling to turn his back on Tuvalu, Bangladesh, the Maldives, the Sundarbans, and so many more that have a voice that will continue to “doom to fail the UNFCCC” process.
    I hope there are soon 500 million more standing with WIlliam McKibben challenging world leaders to resist pragmatic solutions for powerful nations that are death sentences for the most vulnerable.


  2. I find this whole discussion disheartening. I understand that the Breakthrough Institute explores structural flaws within the UNFCCC, and rightfully so – there are so many inefficiencies and shortcomings with the negotiation process. I also know the Breakthrough Institute has a strong affinity to rational choice thinking, but this doesn’t preclude their staff and thinkers from taking on a justice-based analysis. Or, if the demands of the poor and small nations do not make it into their studies then it would be great if they can accommodate the visionaries who do make this a priority. I find it most tiresome and lowly to see smart people focus their efforts on fragmenting a movement.


  3. McKibben is totally right. Obama really has let us down. Whoever is wasting their time writing critiques of other people’s comments should take their energy towards helping get the Senate Bill strengthened and passed. The Senate hasn’t acted, which has resulted in political effects that are being felt worldwide. Right now. Obama has not shown the leadership on climate and energy he has promised. Remember how he talked about stopping the seas from rising and promised a greener and more prosperous economy on the campaign trail in ’08? Where is that language now? When will he address a joint session of congress on energy, climate, jobs, and the implications if we do not act? THAT is real leadership, and it’s needed now more than ever. Let’s not waste time criticizing the people doing great work, and instead realize we’re all working towards the same goal. Let’s strap on our boots and get to work. The world depends on us, we’d better not disappoint.


  4. More and more I am convinced that we as a civilization will not survive unless we find a path to becoming the best human beings we can be.

    In this case, the “friendly fire” really must stop. Flame wars are not the way to strengthen the movement. Criticism of opinions and positions is an important way to work out our strategy and tactics, but if done the wrong way we weaken ourselves. Our challenge is to rise to the occasion and carefully, but sharply perhaps, explore our friend’s ideas.

    Who is “our friend?” The debate now is somewhat about “does Obama deserve that title?” I had hopes for him based on campaign positions and appointments like Secretary Chu. Since the early days we have had the population of the government by business as usual types and throwing Van Jones to the wolves. President Obama now seems like the usual fare– a “centrist” CEO with a bit of a heart. An upgraded Bill Clinton, more or less.

    We do need to establish a clear set of expectations: leadership for a program that will lead to survival. A display of leadership would involve plain talking to the American people and a mobilization of the base from the campaign. Surely if the Pentagon can mobilize a public opinion machine, the President of the United States could also do so. The minimum targets for survival lie at 350 and lower.

    What we see instead is maneuvering for national advantage and manipulation of the numbers where we are asked to believe that a 4% reduction is really a 17% reduction. (The Democrats switched the base year from the international standard of 1990 to 2005, but their claims resolve to the paltry 4%.) The only people who are fooled by this are the Democratic loyal base, which is a crying shame.

    What is missing is the movement of millions in the street. Whether Obama has “FDR potential” or not, that is the only way to get to where we need to go.


  5. The Breakthrough Institute has a consistent record of working very hard to be contrarian, fighting for whatever position they see as “non-mainstream environmentalist” whether it is right or wrong. They often do a decent job of spotting issues but have yet to really offer anything useful in the solutions department.

    The more interesting fact is that we are dealing with a “simultaneously true” problem here – McKibben and co. are right that what came out of Copenhagen was far too weak and dangerously undermined global civil society, meanwhile Romm is right that the opening of new negotiating pathways provides an opportunity the UN structures couldn’t offer and Obama et al. are right that they probably got as much out of Copenhagen as could be gotten. I tried to wrap this all up in the blog entry at http://www.clf.org/blog/?p=589 – it is all mess and doesn’t provide clear path forward. But that just means we have to do all we can in whatever our forum of choice is – as quickly as we can.


  6. A Functioning U.N.

    The U.N. has never successfully functioned as any one member of the security council has been able to veto all other members – its always been a lame duck.

    President Obama has shown true leadership and secured agreement to work together with other major players for the future, with players who actually can make a difference.

    These are the people who can do something – not just the fringe players who make noise and do not make a difference!

    Its quite clear cut.

    Peter Lionel Griffiths
    President Obama on Copenhagen Accord


  7. is this a call to scrap the unfcc?

    stop the cop16?

    from my pov, the world is experiencing governance related growing pains that occur from transitioning from one era (self-interested expansionism) to another (collaborative regimes). thus, i believe, we need to recognize the good intentions of the unfcc, as well as the controlled actions of the us and china. we’re in the middle of changing eras and world governance is immature, especially with respect to int’l policy.

    so there’s lot’s of opportunity here. one opportunity is to end the fatalistic attitude inherent to (arguably most) environmentalists. and then learn how to implement offensive strategies, such as incremental campaigns, and further institutionalization of environmental policies.



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