Bill says ‘Do the Maths’

Bill McKibben in action photo by Steve LiptayAt this time in our history when greenhouse gases are at their highest levels in more than a million years, Arctic summer sea ice is reduced to about 20% of the area it covered 40 years ago and the oceans near Australia are 30% more acidic than they were just 40 years earlier – clearly the figures don’t make a positive equation for the future of our planet.

Bill McKibben is an author, educator and environmentalist and founder of global grassroots group 350.org.  In partnership with GetUp and the Australian Conservation Foundation, who host Al Gore’s ‘The Climate Reality Project’ in Australia’, Bill toured Australia recently with his ‘Do the Maths’ lectures and Intrepid’s Jane Crouch had the privilege of being in the audience. “Bill challenges us to start putting two and two together, because we can no longer afford to take our planet for granted. Here’s what I learnt that adds up to me:”

  • If Governments and groups speak of capping a global temperature increase at 2 degrees Celsius, and a 1 degree increase has nearly destroyed the Arctic, we really shouldn’t be thinking that up to 2 degrees is OK!
  • For us to stay under a 2 degree increase, we can only emit about 500 gigatonnes more of carbon emissions. The world’s fossil fuel companies already have licenses to extract resources that equate to 5 times this amount!
  • We must radically and quickly change the script, work at keeping fossil fuels in the ground and invest in renewable energy.
  • Divestment from the fossil fuel industry will put them under financial pressure and help to remove their political legitimacy and power.
  • Look at your superannuation. Divestment from the fossil fuel industry may be better for your retirement in more ways than one!
  • Several cities globally are divesting from the fossil fuel industry. As the Mayor of Seattle has said, it makes no sense for them to be spending 100s of millions on building sea walls, and be supporting the main contributors to the problem.
  • Time is not on our side – we must act now.

On the good news front, there is much great evidence that the alternatives are doable and affordable.

  • Last summer Germany had days where more than half their energy needs were produced from solar.  Countries like sunny Australia and the Americas have significantly more untapped renewables potential.
  • China and the ‘one new coal-fired power station a week story’ is history.  Their coal generation capacity did not grow at all last year, but their renewable energy did.  China knows they have to change their fuel sources fast.

And some last words of advice from Bill:  “When you have made sound changes in your lifestyle to care for our planet, the most important thing you can do is ORGANISE!  The more we can come together in groups to take action on global warming, the more likely we can prevail in this fight.”

Intrepid Travel’s carbon management strategy has been underway since 2006, when we set to the task of becoming a carbon neutral business – achieved in 2010.  Intrepid offers more than 1000 different carbon offset trips in more than 100 countries around the globe. For more information click here.

More information on Bill McKibben and his powerful movement can be found at 350.org

Photo of Bill McKibben in action © Steve Liptay

About the author

Jane Crouch - Jane is currently Intrepid Travel's Responsible Business Communications Specialist and writes about all aspects of how travel can bring positive environmental, social and economic benefits. Informed through travel on 7 continents, leading Intrepid trips through SE Asia, work in outdoor education, energy conservation, international development, travellers philanthropy and climate change action, plus a big love of walking, mountains and world music.

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