Urban Hippie by Jen Lahey is published every second Tuesday at OttawaMagazine.com. Follow Jen on Twitter @Jen_Lahey.
Eco-doc alert! Coming up next week, catch a screening of the film Do the Math, which focuses on renowned environmentalist and academic Bill McKibben as he hits the road to educate people about fossil fuels (including a focus on the Keystone pipeline), the fight on climate change, and the quest, as he sees it, to literally save the world while we still can. Also featured: author Naomi Klein, climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, and Michael Brune, executive director of Sierra Club, among others.
The local screening of Do the Math takes place on Tuesday, July 23 at 7 p.m. at the Hintonburg Community Centre (Wellington Room), 1064 Wellington St. W.
McKibben has written more than a dozen books, including one that was regarded as the first to bring the subject of climate change to a general audience, and writes for such publications as The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Mother Jones, The New York Review of Books, Rolling Stone, and Outside. His mission: to educate people and convince governments and other organizations to make systematic and meaningful changes at what he says is a crucial juncture in the world’s climate change status.
The Urban Hippie caught up with the activist while he was on the road and quizzed him about the movie, the movement, and what he thinks needs to change in order to save the climate. McKibben’s responses: straight-to-the point, clear cut, and uncompromising.
What should people expect when they sit down to watch Do the Math?
I think they’ll be struck by the growing size of the climate movement, and by the math at the root of the film: it’s abundantly clear that we have to leave most fossil fuel reserves underground even to meet the unambitious climate targets the world’s governments have agreed to.
What’s the most crucial thing people should know about what’s happening to our climate?
That it’s changing with great speed: the melt of the arctic last summer was a dire event in world history. And we see the effects on a smaller scale somewhere around the world every day now — the flooding in Calgary and Toronto being two recent good examples.
You feel we are at a highly critical point in terms of changes to our global climate. Is it too late to reverse the damage that has been done?
We can’t stop global warming. We, maybe, can still stop it from overwhelming our civilizations. That all depends on how quickly we act.
What are the key changes you think need to be made by both governments and everyday people?
Governments need to put a serious price on carbon, and leave big reserves, like the tar sands of Alberta, underground. They need to take it as seriously as Brazil has taken the task of guarding the Amazon. People need to organize to force governments to do these things, mostly by weakening the fossil fuel industry through methods like divestment.