World-renowned author and environmentalist Bill McKibben will talk about climate change and what ordinary people can do about it at the Missouri Theatre Wednesday night.
His lecture, “Climate Change: The Hottest Fight in the Hottest Decade,” begins at 7 p.m. and is free. Doors open at 6 p.m. and seating begins at 6:30 p.m.
McKibben is the Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College and founder of 350.org, a global, grassroots organization that opposes new coal, oil and gas projects.
His book, “The End of Nature,” published in 1989, was the first book on climate change intended for a non-expert audience ; it has been translated into 24 languages. McKibben has written a dozen more books.
McKibben led resistance to the Keystone Pipeline and has had a key role in the fast-growing fossil fuel divestment movement.
The Missourian spoke to McKibben via email this week.
Q. Tell us more about your lecture and what you plan to talk about.
A. I’ll talk about where we are now — the latest from places like Puerto Rico and Houston, and also the latest technologies that give one hope.
Q. What is the mission or main goal of your lecture?
A. To get people engaged in the fight against climate change. This is a huge problem for our society, and so we need lots of people from all perspectives involved in figuring it out.
Q. I know your book The End of Nature is highly regarded for its teachings of climate change, what force (or forces) do you believe is (or are) causing climate change?
A. Burning coal and oil and gas — that’s the biggest part of the problem. It produces CO2, which by its molecular structure traps heat that would otherwise radiate back out to space.
Q. What type of impact is climate change having on our country and world? What are some of its negative effects?
A. It’s enormous. Polar ice melts; sea water acidifies; drought deepens, and then that evaporated water falls as deluges; in some places we’re getting days so hot that humans can’t handle them.
Q. If climate change is not addressed or taken seriously, what will happen domestically and globally?
A. We’ll test the ability of our civilizations to flat-out survive in conditions unlike any they’ve ever experienced.
Q. What is the most effective method for spreading awareness about climate change?
A. Often, it’s getting people involved in one of the fights going on, about increasing solar energy say. People feel very powerless against something so large, but it’s crucial that they understand they can play a very real role.
Q. How has your research on climate change been affected by the political climate surrounding climate change right now?
A. There’s always been an intense political climate around it, because the fossil fuel industry has so much to lose, and so much money to stir controversy. But, most Americans now understand there’s a problem — Mother Nature is, after all, a fine educator.