Thursday, March 15, 2007

Renewing a Call to Act Against Climate Change

From the New York Times by Felicity Burger

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — Some are born earnest, some achieve earnestness, and some have earnestness thrust upon them. Bill McKibben qualifies for inclusion in at least two of these wedges of humanity.

In 1989, at the age of 28, he achieved earnestness of a dour, frowning sort as one of the first laymen to warn of global warming in his book “The End of Nature.” In the ensuing 18 years, he said recently while cross-country skiing in the woods near his home, he felt caught in a bad dream, forever warning heedless people of a monster in their midst.

Now, when Mr. McKibben is 46, his role as the philosopher-impresario of the program of climate-change rallies called Step It Up, has thrust new earnestness upon him. This time with a smile.

Mr. McKibben’s title — scholar in residence at Middlebury College — seems far too passive to encompass his current frenetic pace. His online call for locally inspired, locally run demonstrations on April 14 has generated plans for a wave of small protests under the Step It Up banner — 870 and counting, in 49 states (not South Dakota) — to walk, jog, march, ski, swim, talk, sing, pray and party around the idea of cutting national emissions of heat-trapping gases 80 percent by 2050.

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