Bill McKibben at F&M Thurs 9/13, 11:30 am — Follow-up Fri 9/14, 7:30 pm at Allen Miller Arts

September 12, 2012

Many people in South-Central Pennsylvania are becoming increasingly aware of climate change after our extremely mild winter and news of the severe drought and loss of crops in the Midwest. Even climate change skeptics are beginning to ask questions. Climatologists and others involved in the earth sciences and nature conservation are urging a reduction in our dependence on fossil fuels. Internationally recognized climate change expert and author, Bill McKibben’s recent “Rolling Stone” articles on the subject have attracted hundreds of thousands of readers. Mr. McKibben will speak at F&M University’s Mayser Gymnasium this Thursday, September 13, at 11:30 a.m. (off College Ave, by W New Street.)

Bill McKibben is the author of a dozen books about the environment, beginning with The End of Nature in 1989, which is regarded as the first book for a general audience on climate change. He is a founder of the grassroots climate campaign 350.org, which has coordinated 15,000 rallies in 189 countries since 2009. Time Magazine called him ‘the planet’s best green journalist’ and the Boston Globe said in 2010 that he was ‘probably the country’s most important environmentalist.’

Bill McKibben’s July 19, 2012 “Rolling Stone” article, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math,” quotes leading climatologists who have determined that our environment can withstand a maximum rise of 3.6 degrees F. Unfortunately, the earth’s climate has already warmed 1.4 degrees F, and there is another 1.4 degrees F of inertial warming built in to the system, even if we cease all CO2 emissions today. Most scientists agree that we can release a maximum of 565 Gigatons of CO2 by 2050, but at our current rate of emissions, we will reach that limit by 2028. Finally, there are 2,795 Gigatons of CO2 in proven oil and coal reserves that companies and countries are planning to extract and burn — five times the maximum limit we can safely emit by mid-century.

 

Above: HIVE founders left to right, Kevin Miller, Spencer Johnson, and Rev. Jerry Lee Miller

In response to Bill McKibben’s reporting, three Lancaster area men have formed a local group, called the HIVE, to take action and raise awareness about climate change. The Rev Jerry Lee Miller has been a minister in the Church of the Brethren for over 30 years. Kevin Miller is an artist and founder of Allen Miller Arts in Lancaster, and a business consultant to Fortune 500 companies for 22 years. Spencer Johnson is an environmental studies and creative writing student at F&M University, a friend of Bill McKibben, and co-president of F&M’s Environmental Action Alliance. The “HIVE of Planet-Loving Activity” (see their page on FaceBook) will offer a follow-up meeting after Bill McKibben’s visit, on Friday, Sept 14, 7:30 p.m. at Allen Miller Arts, 117 E Chestnut St., at Duke, Lancaster,  featuring three speakers and break out group discussions thereafter.

Rev. Jerry Lee Miller chaired a meeting of the “HIVE of Planet-Loving Activity” on Sept 8, 2012, at Allen Miller Arts, to plan ways to support and amplify Bill McKibben’s message during and after his presentation at F&M University, Sept 13, 2012

According to Rev. Jerry Lee Miller, climate change is humanity’s ultimate moral issue: “Violent climate disruptions continue. The right and responsible thing to do is face up to the challenge… We must take action to protect our children and our neighbors… What other business gets to dump their garbage into our air and water for free…while we all pay for it with disruption to the climate (droughts, violent storms, etc.), children ill with asthma, oceans growing more acidic, wells poisoned, farmer’s land taken by eminent domain and our grandchildren’s very future threatened? Anyone know who I’m talking about? We can do better, can’t we now?”

Spencer Johnson is an environmental studies and creative writing student at F&M University and Co-President of the Environmental Action Alliance.

Spencer Johnson is excited to host Bill McKibben at F&M University on Thursday: “Climate change is more important than anything else in my life. The reason for that is simple; it impacts everything around me. My family, my friends, my future. Biologist Paul Ehrlich once said: ‘When species are removed from an Eco-system (due to climate change) it’s like removing the rivets on an airplane. At some point, the plane will fall apart.’ Following Ehrlich’s view, we have to remember that we’re on what many ecologists refer to as ‘spaceship earth,’ a vessel traveling through space and time, dependent on its crew for survival. We’re removing rivets from our spacecraft at an alarming pace and soon we’re going to be stranded with nowhere else to go. Bill McKibben understands this and has become so involved that he is now one of the greatest faces associated with fighting climate change. That’s why Bill is so important. Because he saw what was happening and he acted. He founded 350.org, he’s spoken at hundreds of places all over the world, and he’s out there to make a difference. He’s an inspiration to people like me who aren’t really sure where they’re going in life, but know they want to do something that will make a difference for the better of humanity. It just goes to show that everyone, whether a writing major or business major, can participate in environmental conservation and practice sustainability, and if they really put their mind to the task, they can make great things happen.” 

Kevin Miller, artist and business consultant, shown here with his junk art “Rose Window” made of plastic bottles, is co-founder of Allen Miller Arts with Robert Allen

Kevin Miller has been thinking about future generations: “It no longer matters whether or not we think that climate change is caused by human activity. We can all agree that, for whatever reason, dangerous warming is occurring. Everyone must work together to reverse that deadly trend so that our children and grandchildren and all animals and plants will have a safe and healthy place to live.”

Bill McKibben’s 11:30 a.m. presentation at F&M University, Mayser Gymnasium, Thursday Sept 13, is a unique opportunity for the Lancaster community to learn more about climate change. The follow-up meeting, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Allen Miller Arts, 117 E Chestnut St, at Duke, Lancaster, PA, will give everyone a chance to ask questions, discuss the climate crisis and consider what we can do.

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