On fighting climate change, environmentalist, Bill McKibben speaks at Ashesi

May 5, 2017 – The arc of the physical universe seems to be short and is bending toward heap, rapidly.

For environmentalist and writer, Bill McKibben, the fight against climate change is summed up in his quote above, a re-worked version of late civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King’s quote of patiently fighting for justice and equality. However, according to Bill, in the case of the fight against climate change, “if we do not win soon, then we will not win.”

Nearly thirty years ago, Bill offered some of the earliest warning about potential impacts of climate change in his book, The End of Nature. Speaking at Ashesi, he shared some of the dangers of climate change to the developing world and also, the work of anti-carbon campaign group he co-founded, 350.org.

“The problem we face with climate change is probably the biggest problem humans have ever faced,” he said. “There’s no longer anything theoretical or future about climate change. It’s happening now in big ways that are killing enormous numbers of people and wiping out ecosystems around the world. And one of the things to remember especially for Africa is that the people who are already suffering and will suffer the most from climate change are the people who have done the least to cause it.”

In 2008, Bill founded 350.org to educate people about the dangers of climate change. Over the years, the group’s activities, have not only spread across the world, but also have progressed from merely educational to grassroots activism through protests, projects and climate-focused campaigns.

“Human societies change best when they change gradually,” he said. “That’s the cheapest and culturally best way to change things. If we had even 50 years, that would be the way we would rather do this. Our problem is, we do not have 50 years; we’re losing badly now. We had to start changing 25 years ago, and we didn’t, so now we’re deepening a hole, and we need to move fast. That’s why we began to move from just education to a certain amount of confrontation. The good news to this is that people are resisting everywhere, however we don’t know how the battle is going to come out, because unlike other challenges humans have faced, there’s a limit to how long we can wage this battle without eventually losing. If we do not win this fight, then none of the other fights we are going to engage in will matter very much, because all the things we care about - development, health and more - they all depend on having a planet that’s working something like the way it’s supposed to work, and if it isn’t then we’ll never make the progress that we need to make and want to make.”

In Ghana, 350.org is represented by G-ROC, an informal network of youth trained by 350.org with the aim of partnering with local stakeholders to champion the need for carbon emission reduction while actively promoting renewable energy systems in combatting climate change. Their focus has been to combat coal plants from being built in Ghana.