April 12 News: McKibben Says The Planet’s Fever Is Spiking, But Antibodies Are Kicking In

Bill McKibben has a new article in Rolling Stone showing that the fight to keep us below two degrees C is not so one-sided anymore. Here’s the beginning but it’s worth a full read.

It got so hot in Australia in January that the weather service had to add two new colors to its charts. A few weeks later, at the other end of the planet, new data from the CryoSat-2 satellite showed 80 percent of Arctic sea ice has disappeared. We’re not breaking records anymore; we’re breaking the planet. In 50 years, no one will care about the fiscal cliff or the Euro crisis. They’ll just ask, “So the Arctic melted, and then what did you do?”

Here’s the good news: We’ll at least be able to say we fought.

After decades of scant organized response to climate change, a powerful movement is quickly emerging around the country and around the world, building on the work of scattered front-line organizers who’ve been fighting the fossil-fuel industry for decades. It has no great charismatic leader and no central organization; it battles on a thousand fronts. But taken together, it’s now big enough to matter, and it’s growing fast.

… as the planet runs its spiking fever, the antibodies are starting to kick in. We know what the future holds unless we resist. And so resist we will.

If Gina McCarthy gets confirmed to be the next EPA Administrator, she will have a “common-sense” approach to climate change. [Washington Post]

More reporting on the fact that much of recent warming has been going into the deep oceans. [NBC News, USA Today]

Chinese scientists have concluded that China’s fossil fuel consumption is directly linked to its rise in daily temperature spikes. [ABC News]

New U.S. electric installation was 100 percent renewable energy in March, and 82 percent for the full first quarter. [ News]

The natural gas industry is making a bet that Russians would rather have natural gas vehicles than hybrids. [New York Times]

New Jersey is looking to cut funding for renewable energy projects, but increase funding for renewable energy storage projects. [CleanTechnica]

Expect the Interior Department to issue new rules on fracking disclosure and well integrity soon. [The Hill]

37 Responses to April 12 News: McKibben Says The Planet’s Fever Is Spiking, But Antibodies Are Kicking In

  1. Jim says:

    Good morning –

    Can you address the new drought report by Hoerling? Thank you.


  2. Paul Klinkman says:

    We live in a world of talk talk talk. If we want to talk about action on catastrophic climate change, I guess I can do that for a little while.

    Politically, there’s a guy in the pocket of oil companies running in Massachusetts right now in the Democratic primary against one other major candidate. You have the option of driving over the border to help throw an election.

    Long range, start next week to look for a candidate to run in 3/4 of the nation’s primaries, both Republican and Democratic wherever those two parties are the only practical choices, and as independents (Socialists, Greens) where that’s a really practical choice. You can drive maybe 50 miles to campaign in the next congressional district if they have a closer race than in your district. If you throw just one bum out, even if you just scare the bum a little, you’ll feel a bit better. Maybe the bad dreams won’t be as bad for you.

    Ask Planned Parenthood about their protecting their vulnerable people. The meanies went after doctors because killing or otherwise attacking a few of them has a ripple effect. It closes down numbers abortion clinics effectively. Your vulnerable and valuable climate change allies drive the cost of solar/wind down. Let me tell you, they starve now. Then afterwards, you can pretend to yourself that you didn’t know or were too weak to do anything. Actually, malicious not-knowing about how you’re going to succeed in the climate change business is a cheap aversion-serving behavior that you should work yourself out of.

    What’s your money doing? People got out of tobacco companies 30 or so years ago on moral grounds. How about fossil fuel companies? Next, is your money actually doing good or just not evil?

    Is your church wealthy? Have you considered loaning money to a middle-of-the-road church in your denomination so that they can afford solar on their roof or insulation? You don’t have to loan to your denomination’s deadbeats, just to the good risks that can’t quite pull the trigger. Your church gets a little better interest rate on your money, the other church gets a little cheaper interest rate on their solar loan, and the big bank gets no gravy at all, too bad for them.

    Larger PV arrays are more cost efficient. If your state has legalized putting a neighbor’s meter and yours too on your potential PV system, you can get a 2 for 1 deal, or 3 for 1. You can combine accounts. Again, it drives up your financial gains and paves the path for everyone else down the road. However, you’d have to cooperate with somebody else and that’s so, so un-American. Americans are supposed to act dumb-as-rocks about being consumers, remember?

    Yoga teachers have athletes and also they have arthritic seniors, sometimes in the same class. The seniors need the most help because they can make the most quick improvement. Wherever you are in life, bring what you have (and what you don’t have) to the catastrophic climate change issue. Don’t work beyond your own limits, but be ready to make some progress.

  3. Leif says:

    IMO the Hoerling report is an attempt to keep the drought disaster insurance companies on the “hook” for the massive losses.

  4. Mike Roddy says:

    Bill, you are our best writer on this subject, thanks again.

    We shouldn’t have to wait for the truth from Rolling Stone, which is kind of an airhead magazine in some ways, detracting from your message’s credibility. Your climate pieces should be on the front page of the New York Times, or made into television specials for CBS.

    Won’t happen, and that’s whey the fossil fuel companies are still winning, and continue to buy Congressmen and editors with impunity. I hope you revisit my previous suggestion, whether through 350 or someone else. We must aggressively confront the six main media companies if we’re going to get anywhere. Beseeching them for a little coverage is exactly what they want. They are not in control, nature is.

  5. Spacenut says:

    I agree with you Leif. The insurance industry needs to get their money back by going after the root cause instead of raising premiums on the plebs. Divide and conquer, pit the money giants against each other. Should prove to be an interesting fight. Only problem is a war that big will have huge collateral damage to the innocent bystanders.

  6. BobbyL says:

    If they showed global graphs instead of US graphs for energy use coal would be getting close to oil as the number one source. No wonder so many scientists say we can no longer stay under 2C with coal use and its infrastructure increasing.

  7. Endofmore says:

    the planet has sensed us as an infection, and is using wind water and heat to get rid of us
    another way of putting it is that humanity has been a disruptive tenant. the planet is terminating our lease for disturbing all the other tenants in the neighbourhood and preventing them from enjoying a peaceful existence

  8. Sasparilla says:

    Great article Bill (McKibben) and as Mike Roddy said above, you are our best writer on the subject.

    Thank you…the struggle continues forward.

  9. Fred Brown says:

    It’s too late already. Watch as the planet continues to heat up despite our best (paltry and then extremely desperate) efforts.

    Not hard to see this coming. The latent heat effect is but one reason, all that energy being stored in the deep oceans WILL radiate back out.

    All that missing ice…all over the world. All that exposed coastal sea… all that methane hydrate warming up. All those permafrost temperature readings…

    Pure hopium to go on claiming that “antibodies are kicking in”. This would only be true if we shut down all industrialized civilization worldwide instantly.

  10. Thomas Rodd says:

    Resistance can get attention, but only political majorities can get big things done.
    Bill McKibben recently came out suggesting people work on having a “viable third party” to compete in American elections. Of course some will differ, but the evidence is strong that this is a dangerous, foolhardy,and counterproductive suggestion, especially given that McKibben’s influence on younger people is substantial.
    Mckibben should be asked by people who care about and respect him and his amazing work to drop this suggestion. Otherwise, he will be properly seen as treading around near the place where you go off the deep end.

  11. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Plausible metaphor, if we act like virulent bacterial or viral infections. However many bacteria enter into a peaceful, mutually beneficial co-existence with their hosts, and viruses even enter the DNA of their hosts, so, if we learn to be good, not too greedy and disruptive and live like ‘good germs’, there is room for us on, in and of Gaia yet.

  12. BlackDragon says:

    Mulga, I really like your analogy here. Interesting way of seeing it.

    Endofmore, I don’t think the idea of being evicted for being disruptive tenants is helpful. This kind of thinking encourages the “us vs. nature” attitude, and all kinds of other things about retribution and punishment that encourage fear, power trips, and so on. Old stuff that I think we can move away from.

    Besides, 99% of species that have ever existed are now extinct. Were they evicted by nature? Not really – they had their time, and nature moved on.

    More to the point, a lot of our problems can be attributed to various qualities that nature has hardwired into our brains – the various dopamine-related action/reward cycles that tend to encourage our overly consumptives behaviors, mixed in with other impulses that make things like big houses, sexy cars and exotic vacations very hard to let go of.

    To balance those biological tendencies, we have our higher brain powers, and the wisdom of our souls, as much as we can access it. The trick is to have both compassion for our various failings, many of which are biologically driven, and the wisdom, smarts and drive to listen to the other urges, and act accordingly.

  13. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Symbiosis Now! Great slogan apart from the fact that few would really understand it, ME

  14. Merrelyn Emery says:

    BlackDragon, we have 60,000 years of history that tells us that our current acquisitive behaviour is not in-built but the result of the form of organization we adopted at the time of the industrial revolution. When people are forced to compete in top down, unequal, hierarchical systems, competition comes to define their lives. Today, they show it in trying to buy the biggest and the shiniest, ME

  15. Ken Barrows says:

    Your comment highlights the differences among those who comment. You think that the major political parties can act commensurate with the scope of the problem. I don’t. That’s an argument that will never be resolved. At least not until human population starts declining.

  16. Jack Burton says:

    I sense that there is a lot of denial in those who believe the science but can’t connect the science with the result that is coming. Notice how passive everyone is about the complete and sudden collapse of the Arctic ice? Look, just last year you could read experts optimistic that we could limit arctic melting if we took action in the next ten years! Ha! Ha! Seriously?
    Take action? The only action being taken is massive increases in fossil fuel use. The arctic sea ice isn’t gonna last out the decade let alone be saved by our actions.
    How long ago were we warned that we could see ice free summers in the arctic by 2100, then 2050 and now 2020. That is a fast slide in predictions.
    From what I see, this summer MAY, just MAY, see a near total melt. The possibility exists that arctic sea ice will be just a small patch this summer, and the seas will sit and soak up sunlight and warm to unprecedented levels.

  17. BobbyL says:

    I wonder if McKibben really means what he says about third parties. In the election last year he didn’t endorse Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson, former mayor of Salt Lake City, who was once called America’s greenest mayor and is a strong advocate of taking aggressive action on global warming. Anderson is busy trying to build the Justice Party. The Justice Party would seem to be a good party to for McKibben to support if he really is serious about a third party.

  18. BlackDragon says:

    Merrelyn, here’s my full take: We can never separate out the brain-biological factors, no matter the external social pressures, and certainly all forms of social behavior are intimately linked to biology.

    The dopamine factor:

    Dopamine plays a major role in the brain system that is responsible for reward-driven learning. Every type of reward that has been studied increases the level of dopamine transmission in the brain, and a variety of highly addictive drugs, including stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine, act directly on the dopamine system.

    Now, ever since we have been finding new ways of playing the “reward game,” first with agriculture, then with fossil fuels and technology/industry, we have been intensely feeding our dopamine brain-biology. We can look at these patterns as low-level addictions, if you will, steadily building on themselves into self-reinforcing addictive cycles – more, faster, even more, even faster… and so on.

    Once the dopamine cycle is socially connected to the “Wow, newness is cool and amazing! More shiny! More speedy!” Then, yes, things really take off into “I want more that you have! Mine is better!” and so on.

    So, I would say for sure the new social constructs you mention created new patterns of behavior, and new pressures, but none of that would have gone anywhere unless we had the brain-biological factors already in place to work with.

  19. BlackDragon says:

    One other thing – the hierarchical systems you mention had another goal that I talked about once in an earlier post: they cut us off from our individual “immortal knowing” – and all the personal empowerment that came from that knowing.

    This immortal knowing, I believe, was something that we absolutely, individually, owned, felt and used on an everyday basis, both in our deeper and closer connection to the natural world, and our more individual spiritual connection to the larger reality of the universe.

    The hierarchical systems did their very best to annihilate this ancient power as it was incompatible with centralized control.

    And it was no accident that control of “the reward,” – in the well-documented practice of centralized control and distribution of agricultural output – was used by these hierarchies to maintain and enforce their power.

  20. skyman says:

    I think you are onto something here, as is Mulga. This should be the message: balance with the environment, with the ecology.

  21. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Close down industrial ‘civilization’, except that part which is using what we have left to produce the way of the future and give us time to completely change our systems from cooperation instead of competition, ME

  22. Endofmore says:

    peaceful mutually beneficial life form describes every species on earth except ourselves
    we fitted into that category too until we figured out how to light a fire, nature just about tolerated that until twe figured out how to put that fire under a steam engine.
    it’s easy to forget that that was only 250 years ago.
    it might be said that the industrial revolution was only a brief flash of light in the million years of our existence.
    whether nature snuffs us out altogether because of it remains to be seen.
    We certainly will not be allowed to carry on burning our environment to the detriment of everything else.

  23. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Then we must learn them, ME, like good and, infinitely, patient mentors.

  24. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I reckon we wasn’t too bad until the patriarchal ego-projections in the sky instructed their earthly co-dependants to overthrow the earth mothers. That’s when things began to go haywire.

  25. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Prince Peter the Great was right on the money. Co-operate or die. Indeed, to live in the eternal battlefield of competition, save for, perhaps, holding the pool table in the pub for a wee while, is a definite waste of our brief holiday from non-existence.

  26. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Is this a fifth or sixth generation phantasia?

  27. Endofmore says:

    Every species is in an “Us vs Nature” contest
    That is nature’s way of ensuring that only the genes of the strongest are passed on. I don’t like it very much either, but there can be no dispute about how nature works.
    For you to thrive, some other life form has to die, whether you are a meat eater or vegetarian or vegan.
    Mankind altered the game temporarily by becoming farmers and herders..what that did was grow energy sources conveniently to hand. It didn’t alter what we are.
    We still kill to eat, it’s just that we have developed a civilised infrastructure that allows us to pay others to do our killing for us.
    We are here for two reasons, to eat and reproduce ourselves. The pleasure in doing both of those things is certainly hardwired into our brains–thats why we do it as often as we can. Every creature obviously has the same driving force.
    The function of food intake is to give ourselves the physical stamina to reproduce and rear our young to maturity, after that nature is indifferent to what we do with our time. That used to mean being conveniently dead by 40.
    Unfortunately we have doubled our survival time and drained nature’s resources to do it. That’s where the sexy cars and exotic vacations and warm houses come in. we have somehow linked those things to the same pleasure areas of food and sex
    Pleasant I agree, but there isn’t enough space or resources to do that. The fact that it cannot go on has nothing to do with retribution or punishment..There is no wrathful deity on high.
    we have exceeded nature’s limit but we will remain in denial of it until our infinite demands hit the wall of finite resources.
    and even then we won’t be;ieve it

  28. Mike Roddy says:

    Obama was sold to us as the most Progressive of the Democratic candidates in 2008. Look what that got us- no bankers in jail, and open season in the Arctic, Powder River Basin, and Marcellus.

    If a third party caused the Democrats to lose in 2016, that would be a good thing. They would either change or die. The Republicans will always have the reliable fascist and Southern elements, and aren’t going anywhere. Democrats are actually in more trouble, but they don’t know it yet.

  29. Merrelyn Emery says:

    BlackDragon, I know a bit about dopamine and how the human being works but perhaps you are not quite so knowledgable about the genotypical organizational design principles. They were discovered in 1967, are solid, demonstrable and have profound effects on every life. We also have highly reliable ways of changing the first (produces competition) to the second (producing cooperation). See or for an intro, ME

  30. Merrelyn Emery says:

    I’m trying MM but some would say “very trying”, ME

  31. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    As the plutocrat said to another of his ilk, while introducing one of his pet Congressmen, ‘Here, meet this dope of mine’. That’s the ‘dope of mine’ cycle that we have to break.

  32. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    That’s the truth. The Democrats have been taken over by the Clintonite triangulation mob, as las UK Labor by the hideous Blairite Third Way Thatcherites, and Australian Labor by its Rightwing ‘economic rationalist’ opportunists. These parties have become the enemies of humanity as surely as the even more morally insane further Right neo-feudalists. Any time spent on attempting to reform them is totally wasted. A proper water-melon, green and red, party is the only hope.

  33. Mine is only a small part but I give talks on the effects of climate change and what is projected for the future locally.
    Its no good waiting for something to happen you have to motivate the population.

  34. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Yes, a bad mistake but the people were very slow to change their ways and the men really didn’t learn how to use their stolen fire until the industrial revolution. Even then, their victory was patchy and now, more people than ever before are returning to the old beliefs and ways, ME

  35. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    That’s why we dream-to escape ‘Them’.