UPDATE MARCH 12 – This event is POSTPONED.
Bill McKibben, one of America’s best known advocates for action on climate change, will give a lecture, Our Changing Climate: A Global Movement of Reform, at UNC Asheville’s Kimmel Arena at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 2. This talk is free and open to everyone – no tickets needed – with support from The David and Lin Brown Visionary Lecture Series and The Ecology Wildlife Foundation Fund.
McKibben is widely credited with having authored the first book on global warming written for a general audience – published in 1989, The End of Nature was written with the hope and expectation that simply and clearly stating the problem, then called the “greenhouse effect,” would lead to corrective action. And in the succeeding three decades, McKibben has continued to write, speak out, and organize mass actions around the world. He is a founder of 350.org, an international movement “working to end the age of fossil fuels and build a world of community-led renewable energy.”
Last year, McKibben published a new book, Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? “In a way, Falter is a summing up after three decades of where we are … we haven’t done very much in those 30 years,” said McKibben in an interview with the Sierra Club’s national magazine. “As a result, what was an abstract and theoretical threat is now daily reality for people all over the world. … I now have amazing colleagues around the planet [at 350.org] – most of them in places that did nothing to cause this problem, but all of them nonetheless engaged in the fight. I find that endlessly inspiring.”
McKibben, the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, has earned many prestigious awards. He won the Right Livelihood Award in 2014, and was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Peace Prize Award and the Thomas Merton Prize; he holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities. Foreign Policy named him to their inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers, and The Boston Globe said he was “probably America’s most important environmentalist.”
McKibben also has been a leader in the movement to divest from fossil fuel industries, which has recently gained some momentum. His report, Money is the Oxygen On Which the Fire of Global Warming Burns, was published last year in The New Yorker, and when BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager, announced in January 2020 that it would withdraw from investments that “present a high sustainability-related risk,” McKibben called it “a remarkable breakthrough.”
He also said that BlackRock’s move was too limited and called for pushing them further, “but at least we’ve reached the point that [BlackRock] realized they have a role in dealing with the climate crisis,” he told The Guardian. “I don’t think the big oil companies are capable of changing, though I’d like to be proved wrong. The job is basically to starve them and reduce their ability to continue expanding.”
Last year, UNC Asheville took the step of using ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) criteria for 10% of its endowed funds. This move, approved in June 2019 by the University’s Board of Trustees, followed a multi-year effort initiated by UNC Asheville student leaders, including members of the UNCA Divest activist group.
Seating at this free, unticketed event is first-come, first served. Kimmel Arena’s “Clear Bag Policy” will be in effect; please do not bring backpacks. People attending this event will be permitted to park in faculty/staff and non-resident lots on campus after 5 p.m., but parking is limited so please consider using public transportation.
For more information, contact Brian Davis, in UNC Asheville’s Advancement Office, 828.350.4575 or firstname.lastname@example.org.