Global warming activist to bring climate fight to campus

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Photo of Bill .

McKibben

KALAMAZOO—Western Michigan University will become ground zero in the fight against global warming this week when a famous activist in the battle against greenhouse gas emissions visits the campus.

Bill McKibben will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, at Miller Auditorium. His presentation, titled "Notes from the Front Lines of the Climate Fight," is part of the University Center for the Humanities 2013-14 Changing Climates Series and is free and open to the public.

Bill McKibben

McKibben might not appear a likely candidate to be handcuffed in the city jail in Washington, D.C. But that's where he spent three days in the summer of 2011 after leading the largest act of civil disobedience in 30 years in the nation's capital to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline. A few months later, the protesters would see their efforts rewarded when President Obama agreed to put the project on hold.

McKibben is the founder of the environmental organizations Step It Up and 350.org, a grassroots climate campaign that has coordinated some 15,000 rallies in 189 countries since 2009. Regarded as among the first to warn of the dangers of global warming, the former writer for The New Yorker is the author of more than a dozen books on the environment, including "The End of Nature," considered the first book for a general audience about climate change, and "Deep Economy." His latest book is titled "Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist," in which McKibben chronicles his innovative activism, including his founding of the impactful 350.org, protests against the Keystone XL pipeline and his collaboration with beekeeper Kirk Webster.

McKibben realizes that the victory over the Keystone XL Pipeline is both small and temporary and is at best a steppingstone. With the Arctic melting, the Midwest in drought and superstorm Sandy ravaging the Atlantic Coast, McKibben believes the need for much deeper solutions is obvious. Time magazine called him "the planet's best green journalist" while the Boston Globe said in 2010 that he is "probably the country's most important environmentalist."

When not leading demonstrations or working to combat the onslaught of carbon emissions, he is the Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, and he holds honorary degrees from a dozen colleges, including the universities of Massachusetts and Maine, the State University of New York, and Whittier and Colgate colleges.

McKibben grew up in suburban Lexington, Mass., and lives in Vermont with his wife, writer Sue Halpern.

Changing Climates Series

As part of the Changing Climates Series, the Center for the Humanities is bringing together scientists and humanists to consider how the world's temperature, environmental and social climates are changing and what the earth's inhabitants need to know and do about it. The series is exploring how scientific research is defining issues that concern everybody, including the warming of the globe, the toxicity of the environment and the fundamental changes mankind is making to the natural world. The intersection of these and other issues provides both an opportunity and a necessity to talk across the usual boundaries within academia and beyond.

For more information, email the Center for the Humanities at wmu-humanities@wmich.edu or call the center at (269) 387-1811.