I look forward to your program on Sunday mornings on WBEZ. This morning I listened as Bill McKibben talked about the moral aspects of living with global warming. I was trained as an ecologist and evolutionary biologist, and I've contributed for decades to environmental organizations trying to change the way things are.
I have found it extremely difficult psychologically to cope with what is happening to the life on this our world. Since I was a small boy I have felt intense kinship with other beings, other life. Where this comes from I don't know. Every day, it seems, I hear another story on the radio of plants and animals--or entire groups of plants and animals--going extinct: frogs and amphibians all over the world, bats in North America. All this beautiful life. On and on. It never stops, this litany of death. It is all particular with me. It is grief, intense grief, and I have not found a way to face it or do something with it.
This is the reason I found it particularly difficult to listen to Bill McKibben. I take no issue with anything that McKibben spoke about, but his credibility is near zero in my book. You need go no further for the living, breathing embodiment of environmentalist hypocrisy. In 2007, he had a piece in Sierra, the Sierra Club's magazine, on green construction, in which he writes how he and his wife became fed up with NYC, found a designer, and built a custom house on a big lot "deep in the woods" of rural Vermont. McKibben takes pains to describe the "green" technology he used and how he only had to take down a "couple" of trees to make room for it. His account of building this 2000-sq ft house is replete with such rationalizations. From the photographs, it is apparent that this house must have cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars to build. McKibben must realize that only the very wealthy can go this route, and he must also realize that even if everyone did have the means to follow his example, doing so would be unsustainable and environmentally disastrous. Meanwhile, McKibben jets around the globe talking about how the human race has to live sustainably and work actively to curtail its wasteful ways. McKibben's right: It may already be too late. But it doesn't matter; McKibben has found a shtick that works for him.
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