“The possibility of swift change lies in people coming together in movements large enough to shift the Zeitgeist.”
— Bill McKibben, writing in this week’s issue of The New Yorker magazine (November 26 issue).
We are on a path to self-destruction, and yet there is nothing inevitable about our fate. Solar panels and wind turbines are now among the least expensive ways to produce energy. Storage batteries are cheaper and more efficient than ever. We could move quickly if we chose to, but we’d need to opt for solidarity and coördination on a global scale. The chances of that look slim. In Russia, the second-largest petrostate after the U.S., Vladimir Putin believes that “climate change could be tied to some global cycles on Earth or even of planetary significance.” Saudi Arabia, the third-largest petrostate, tried to water down the recent I.P.C.C. report. Jair Bolsonaro, the newly elected President of Brazil, has vowed to institute policies that would dramatically accelerate the deforestation of the Amazon, the world’s largest rain forest. Meanwhile, Exxon recently announced a plan to spend a million dollars—about a hundredth of what the company spends each month in search of new oil and gas—to back the fight for a carbon tax of forty dollars a ton. …
The possibility of swift change lies in people coming together in movements large enough to shift the Zeitgeist.
It’s down to us, folks. We make the Zeitgeist; we can shift it with our daily choices. We, in our millions, choosing to radically reduce our footprint, consciously adopting ultra-low-footprint lifestyles, are the best hope of saving life as we know it on this planet.
• The New Yorker magazine offers thoughtful, nuanced coverage of social issues, politics, and culture.
• Author, educator, environmentalist Bill McKibben is author of numerous books including Deep Economy, Eaarth, The End of Nature, Fight Global Warming Now, and Radio Free Vermont. billmckibben.com