Author and climate activist Bill McKibben was among hundreds arrested at the White House recently at an environmental protest over a proposed Canada-U.S. oil pipeline. McKibben joins us in the studio — along with veteran environmentalist and entrepreneur Paul Hawken — to talk about approaches to tackling climate change.

McKibben, whose group organized the protest, is advocating civil disobedience to demand government action on global warming.

Bill McKibben, founder of, an international climate campaign, and author of books including "Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet"
Paul Hawken, environmentalist, founder and former CEO of Smith & Hawken, current CEO of One Sun Solar and author of books including "Blessed Unrest" and "The Ecology of Commerce"

  • Chemist150

    Propane from Fracking to recover methane+.  The silicates (most abundant mineral on earth) at the high pressures at those depths naturally produce methane from CO2 and water.  They recover the methane by injecting water and CO2 which reseeds it.  The natural flux alone is considerable even without reseeding the minerals.  Propane is a natural result of processing methane.

    It recycles CO2, it can be done as safely if not more safely than drilling in the Gulf.  The technology already exists for heating, cooling and vehicles.

    It’s scalable, cleaner, recycles CO2 pound for pound.  It does not have to contaminate ground water and can be done safely. It’s the answer for everyone. 

    The research has been done by the oil companies as “intellectual properties”.  There is already dot gov websites with funded research into this technology with relevant flux information and such.  The SEC is finally asking questions about fracking.  It’s a matter of time.  The auto industry will first transition to diesel while oil prices are driven up and then transition to propane.

    • Tamar

      H2O and CO2 are not the only compounds injected in the fracking process.  Many chemicals which you would not like to drink are used. Watch the documentary Gasland.

      • Chemist150

        I’m aware of that.  I don’t “watch” stuff made for those that need prophesied too. It does not have to end up in the ground water.  There have been and probably will be incidences but it can be safer than previous events.  In some cases, the methane naturally ends up in the ground water without fracking. 

      • Chemist150

        I’d also like to know what chemicals that you are specifically refer to.  benzene, toluene, xylene, and ethylbenzene?  In paint everywhere and used everyday.  You should ban painting and painting houses all together.  Methanol?  It’s released by a chemical reaction in your body when you use certs breath mints or anything containing aspartame.  Quit pouring excess soda down the drains man….  

        Seriously, A little knowledge makes people stupid.

  • Livegreen

    Yesterday on the Forum discussion about the President’s over ruling of the EPA on ozone, a representative of the oil industry said, and I paraphrase, “the environment and business go hand in hand” and “with more regulation manufacturing companies will relocate to other countries”.  I agree with him on this although I agree with environmentalists in support of the higher EPA standards.  So:
    –Why are manufacturers, retailers and environmentalists ALL preventing integration of environmental rules into international trade agreements?–Why are environmentalists NOT promoting U.S. products made with more environmentally safe standards?1 example:  all water coming out of U.S. textile factories is cleaned through their own waste treatment, while in China and Vietnam it is dumped into rivers and then oceans.  It comes right back to us in our water, in our rain, and in our seafood.The lack of inclusion of the environment in trade deals is killing both the environment and U.S. jobs.  Yet big business and environmentalists BOTH defend this death spiral.

  • Leon

    I’m certainly not a fan of Perry, but what I think he was trying to say was that just as the majority of the “scientists” in Galileo’s day got the astronomy wrong, the majority of climate scientists today are wrong about human-caused climate change.

  • Beth

    Do folks like these two men even know average folks who are actually MORE concerned in these economic times with just having food for their family?  Of course we should be concerned about clean air, water etc. But when you are scared about losing the roof over your head, having food each day, and the job you may lose any day, climate change doesnt get on the top 10 list I have.

    • Guest

      Until later on when this becomes a more immediate crisis. It’s our short-term habits that also helped cause the recession. Not to mention, particularly, for California, changing our energy habits will create jobs! We are at the forefront of green technology in the world! It was the US innovations that made us the powerhouse for so many decades. Could we finally go back to our roots? You don’t even have to believe in climate change to see the long-term benefits.

      • utera

        Yes but jobs promise is false.  We’ve done this before and it didn’t sustain because the technology wasn’t there, in spain, germany, the green jobs have been a joke.  When you require tax subsidy to make a job it had better be worth it, building actual infrastructure like bridges and the rest that are tried and true.  Expensive solar plants and the rest that run for a while as a green wash badge do nothing but waste tax payer money, this is not free, every dime spent on these show off projects is money taken from schools and the rest.  Every dime spent on subsidizing a prius or some yuppies roof jewelry is money taken from people who could actually need it.

  • Neal

    On the silly controversy of evolution, We can look to  many books about the evidence of evolution, and of course The Origin of Species, that allow us to read and understand the science perspective – not by political argument, but showing scientific evidence.  

    What is/are the equivalent for  climate change that allow me as a citizen to educate myself so that I’m not caught up in the politicization of science?

    • Rufus

      As if the continual evolution of viruses like the flu and HIV weren’t enough proof of evolution… People use religion as cover for their misdeeds and to avoid guilt.
      The climate change issue is a red herring. The real issue is pollution. If we can’t get from point A to point B without ruining the air & soil then we need to change as a society.

  • Sam

    Could the guests explain the health effects on the Canadian Native American communities and the possible coverup of this by the government of Canada? Al Jazeera did a good report on the problem recently.

  • Rufus

    The tea party that was once about the Constitution and liberty has been largely hijacked by corporatist interests. They care as little about the environment than do the corporatist lackeys in Congress, whom the voters are fooled into electing every year.
    The problem is corporatism — rule by corporations and their lackeys in power and in the media.
    Our country is run by corporations, Canada is too, and the corporate interests are well organized, meeting every year in places like Bohemian grove and the Bilderberg meetings.
    Know your oppressors…  (yes they include Gore).

    • utera

      No, the simple fact is the country is run by energy, always has been, whether coal or even wood.  You cry about the corporations but like most other obama voters, you live in climate controlled housing made possible by carbon producing energy sources, your pc is powered by carbon, and of course your transportation..your car is powered by oil.  These things aren’t going to change anytime soon without a break through in technology, all the alternatives have been found to be expensive and unworkable, countries that claimed they would try for solar such as spain have found the promises do not meet the expectations.  Like it or not this is the way it is, It is kind of disturbing how the enviro groups on this spend more time on propaganda and fear rather than funding actual scientific development of alternatives.

  • Rufus

    Since when is solar not manly technology? Any attempt to save the environment rather than rape it is by definition manly, as it is the man’s place (in traditional societies) to protect the weak and defenseless. The male who rapes — either a woman or the environment — is little more than a boy, and is a coward.

  • Tamar

    I am so disappointed over and over again by Obama’s actions, especially those impacting our environment.  I feel so helpless. I don’t have children, got rid of my car and bought a cargo bike, hang my clothes to dry, have a solar oven, grow organic vegetables at home, recycle everything possible, don’t have AC in my house, and eat an almost entirely vegetarian diet.  I’m horrified that we are at war to protect our oil interests and only military families are making sacrifices for the war effort. 
    Why hasn’t the Eisenhower speed limit been reinstituted?  It seems like the very least we could do.  Why do so many Americans feel they have the right to use up all the petroleum, with complete disregard for future generations?
    This pipeline is obviously an environmental nightmare.

    I write to my representatives, but it feels futile.  What can I do?

  • keith

    Congress establishes the law of the country. In our system the president cannot dictate. Want change we need legislature and an executive that agree.

  • Sklyall

    It would be helpful if your guests could provide specific instances of the benefits of transitioning to a low-carbon economy.  Americans do not accept the reality of climate change and as a result, countries such as China, Germany and the Netherlands are positioned to gain the greatest share of economic benefit.  Until climate change is taken out of the partisan battlefield it will be difficult to gain public support.  I work on climate change issues with policymakers and civil society leaders in Asia and it is astonishing to note the difference in levels of awareness between US policy makers and those in Asia.

  • Cporro

    people in power tend to want to stay there. oil is a tremendously powerful and profitable industry. maintaining it’s near monopoly status is a big part of this. it only makes sense that it would corrupt the political and regulatory systems. that’s just good business.

    lack of political will is exactly what i would expect from any high ranking political official.

  • Sarah S.

    Why doesn’t President Obama address the nation and say we must all sacrifice.  We are fighting two wars and witnessing global warming’s effects.  He should be concrete, like the British WW II posters that urged people to walk and eat less meat, and ask every household two reduce its consumption of energy, water, and gas by – let’s say – 7%.  That’s something people can get their minds and sense of duty around.

  • progressivetruth

    fear doesn’t anymore because under the bush administration, they capitalized on it, so now there is a backlash, which the republican party is doing so well at getting this message across by saying that we need to get the government out of our business so that they can deregulate in order to swindle them with another head wind.

  • utera

    Wow, it was amazing to hear that guy talk about science then sow fear about the climate based on recent weather.  Sorry, there is no scientific reasoning behind that argument, any climate change is long time scale change.  That was about as typical as a denier claiming that because it was cold today there is no warming.  Anyways this kind of disingenuousness is why these folks have a problem, it isn’t science or the other reasons they bring up, you simply lack credibility. Your claimed solutions do not work.  Right now the argument against the pipeline comes down to nimbyism.    Like it or not we need oil, and it will be produced one way or another, I prefer it be from canada rather than some terror sponsor like saudi arabia.  In any case oil is world market, do these people think oil from canada won’t be sold without a pipeline?  Who are they kidding, it will be sold to china and the rest of the rising nations. 

    The facts are the alternative energy folks have not put their cards on the table, because they don’t actually have any viable solutions at the moment, so all you have are obstructionists, who will try to stop development without any consideration for what are needs are. These are the folks that through fear stopped out nuclear power expansion decades ago, what happened instead? We went to coal and way more carbon, and now these folks think they still have all the answers?  These folks like to talk about how their opponents are anti science but the truth is there is a lot of wishful thinking to go around. Someone else will always solve the problem if they simply throw a wrench in things. Burn the fields full of crops and hope someone produces food magically later.  The countries that have tried to go solar and the rest like spain/germany have found their “green jobs” to be a total joke, all the promises were just lies.  Most americans are squeezed now, many of the proposals of such “green” folks are about as regressive as it gets…like it or not you don’t get green from being poor, and that is what they would make us, we need to use this for now until something better comes a long.

    All this fighting over such trivial things is missing the point, the global warming criers have no credibility because they do not account for the total picture.  You stop this pipeline..and what happens? Nothing, oil gets sent abroad in wasteful shipping, and we continue to ship by sea wastefully our energy needs from the middle east.  The 3rd world continues to rise and billions more are added to the planet, china and the rest continue to require more and more energy, all nullifying and then some of any of these folks most extreme proposals.  Like it or not without a break through in energy production this bailing out the titanic with a dixie cup.  That is why these folks have no credibility and why folks have stopped listening to them.

    I support obama on the pipeline, some of us live in the real world. Solar and the rest haven’t been adopted for so long not because of some grand conspiracy, but because it does not quite make sense yet. If it did, you would not need to convince anyone to buy it. Deep down you know you aren’t convincing anyone, even here in the bay area, do you see folks giving up their overseas vacations because of the carbon cost of the plane trip?No, they buy a prius and scoff at suv drivers remain on their high horses about these issues.

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