“I do not know if we win,” McKibben confided at the end of the evening. “But I know that we fight shoulder to shoulder.”
McKibben is not messing around — he may be the most influential American voice in the growing movement to halt global warming by any non-violent means necessary.
Last year, McKibben’s organization 350.org organized a mass protest in Washington D.C. against the Keystone XL pipeline, the largest civil disobedience action in this country in 30 years. And 350.org is marching again in D.C. today, because again Keystone XL is threatening to become the pipeline that toasts what’s left of the climate.
I left that church thinking McKibben was the right man for the job — particularly because he seemed like the kind of man who sincerely wished his job need not exist. His presentation was informative, serious, humorous, and resilient in all the right ways. He said things like, “It will be a slog, but the most important slog ever.”
His specifics were important too. Here are few:
1. McKibben believes we must stop the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline at all costs.
2. Taking a cue from the anti-apartheid movement, 350.org is calling for all American colleges to divest from the fossil fuel industry. On November 7, Unity College in Maine became the first to take the pledge. A how-to-guide on how to start a campus divestment movement is available for download here:
On a professional level, the night was a satisfying one. I was able to meet for a few moments with McKibben, Gasland director Josh Fox, and several other members of 350.org, all delightful people working on issues that are important to me. And I handed out Sourlands DVDs to anyone willing to take one, which was everyone.
The words that stayed with me longest, however, were those of Rachel Carson, a woman who overcame incredible odds to write Silent Spring in 1962. Her words, read aloud in the church by another:
"To sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men.”
Sourlands has now screened at Rider University, Temple University, Brookdale Community College, and across the street from Princeton University. What do people affiliated with these universities think about the divestment plan?