Concert for the Climate and Highlights of the Kennedy and McKibben Talks

The rain may have dampened attendance at last Saturday’s Concert for the Climate, but not the enthusiasm of those present. Environmental author Bill McKibben and activist and river-keeper Robert Kennedy, Jr., gave rousing Kennedy-150and informative talks I wish everyone could have heard.

I found both talks very exciting, compelling, and informative. Here are a few of the major ideas I recall:

  • We need to start looking at the true cost of fossil fuels, which appear cheap on the surface, but are not if you count the billions of government subsidies given to this industry, the taxpayer cost of dealing with the wreckage and waste they leave behind, associated health costs, the destruction of the earth, etc. We need to demand accountability from these industries.
  • Kennedy stressed the need for a renewable energy grid, where thousands of grass-roots producers of renewal energy could get their product to the big cities where it is needed. He said once we stopped our dependence on fossil fuels, free market capitalism would allow renewable energy ventures to come forth to fill the void.
  • Both McKibben and Kennedy said the fossil fuel industries are the only ones who don’t have to take care of their garbage. A home owner wouldn’t get by with dumping their trash in the street, but these big companies can dump their pollution in the air, soil, and water without any consequences.
  • Kennedy said that big corporations get the most return on their investments, not by paying higher salaries to their employees or improving their product, but by giving money to lobbyists in congress. He said that corporations don’t live by the same rules of capitalism as everyone else and basically want socialism for themselves.
  • McKibben talked about the seriousness of climate change and how we cannot extract all the fossil fuels now in the ground without far exceeding the safe level of carbon dioxide (350 pp million) in the atmosphere and raising global temperatures to extremely dangerous levels. He said with every increase of one degree Fahrenheit, crop yields decrease by 5%.
  • Both speakers stressed that we all need to be green in our own lives and communities, but we also need to get involved in the political arenas to bring about the kind of systemic change that is needed. McKibben said we need to rally folks to the movement, because elected leaders pay attention when enough people speak out, join a cause, and become activists.

I learned a lot, new facts and figures, and fresh ways of seeing what is really going on. We are up against great odd because of all the misinformation being propagated by special interest groups. But I see the power of the truth being told, and we can all be a part of informing people of the facts.

I am hopeful because of high-profile people like Kennedy being able to influence and fight for what is right in the circles of power. I see the energy and commitment of people like both the speakers and the great good they are able to do, and that leads me to think that all of us can do more. McKibben said one of the blessings to getting older is that you have very little to lose anymore and it is a time to be much bolder.

I hope you’ll ready Kennedy’s book, The Riverkeepers: Two Activists Fight to Reclaim our Environment as a Basic Human Right and any of McKibben’s great books, including his latest, Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist.