This week, renowned author and environmentalist Bill McKibben delivered the Chubb Fellowship Lecture titled, “Simply Too Hot: The Desperate Science and Politics of Climate Change,” to a packed audience at Yale’s Woosley Hall.
McKibben is currently the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His awards include the Right Livelihood Prize, the Ghandi Prize, the Thomas Merton Prize, the President’s Medal from the Geological Society of America, and the Lannan Prize for nonfiction writing. He has also received the prestigious Guggenheim and Lyndhurst Fellowships, and holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities. The Boston Globe
has called McKibben “America’s most important environmentalist.”
He began his career as a staff writer at The New Yorker
. In 1989, at the age of 28, he published “The End of Nature,” widely considered the first book about global warming written for a broad audience. He has since published more than a dozen books, and continues to write for several publications, including the New York Review of Books
, National Geographic
, Rolling Stone, and Yale Environment 360
. In 2008, he co-founded 350.org
, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized some 20,000 marches and events worldwide. In 2014, biologists named a new species of woodland gnat, Megophthalmidia mckibbeni
, in his honor.
The Chubb Fellowship, based at Timothy Dwight College, is designed to foster among the students at the college and across Yale University an interest in public affairs. In addition to the public lecture, Fellows meet with students and faculty during a meal, reception, or seminar.
We caught up with McKibben before his lecture to talk about the role of climate change activism during the Trump administration.
We’re here on an inauspicious day. This morning, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced a decision by the Trump administration to roll back the Clean Power Plan. How significant is today’s announcement?
: Well, significant, but not unexpected. This has been the dream, not so much of Donald Trump, but of the Koch brothers and their ilk for a long time. Though Trump’s doing terrible things in other places, I think that the environmental damage would’ve been done no matter what Republican president was in charge of things. This is the long-time wish list of the fossil fuel industry, and one after another they’re rolling back the quite modest regulations that tried in any way to rein them in.