I Went to Hear Bill McKibben Speak

At the local community college where two decades ago I went and heard the late James Randi speak, Bill McKibben came and gave a talk that was open to the public. One of the organizers was Peter Sinclair whose blog I sometimes comment on and where I found out about this event. First a few words about Sinclair. His blog is called Climate Denial Crock of the Week. The content and tone of his posts are exactly what you would expect given that title. He does lots of post — probably as many as the most active bloggers at WUWT. He has a smattering of regular commenters. I argue with a few of them, mostly about nuclear. I try to be on my best behavior, but once in a while I can’t help myself and go off on a rant trashing Mark Jacobson. He’s been very good about letting me comment there.

His mother, Mary Sinclair, was an activist who worked against a nuclear power plant that was being built in nearby Midland Michigan in the late seventies. The project was eventually cancelled. He has a good detailed post about her that includes a 60 Minutes profile. Peter Sinclair is not anti-nuclear, but definitely prefers renewables.

I haven’t been to this or any college campus for well over a decade, so I had no idea what to expect. I certainly didn’t want to miss this chance to hear McKibben speak and maybe introduce myself to him and Peter Sinclair. I was also curious to see what the atmosphere and reactions would be. I was also wary that I might be in hostile territory in todays polarized political environment. I also had another reason to be wary. I was actually banned from this campus about twenty years ago. This had to do with me raiding beverage containers there. I am after all a canman (my online moniker before I started using my real name). A janitor (they like to raid beverage containers too) accused me of making a mess. This was not true, but this being a college campus full of college students, there were plenty of messes that could be pointed to. When I asked the nice policewoman who handed me the notice who I could talk to about still using their impressive library (this was before almost everything was available online) she exclaimed “if you show up here again, you’re going to be arrested!”

When I arrived at the campus and parked in a lot near the lecture hall, I saw two of these big yellow plywood “350” signs that used to sprout up every spring around the time of the 2016 election. There were about a half dozen in my town. There was a pretty good size crowd lining up to get in. Right off the bat I noticed Peter Sinclair talking with people and doing event organizing type stuff. He was much taller than I expected and looked very fit and spry. I was wondering if I’d get another chance to introduce myself to him, but I decided I wanted to be as unobtrusive as possible.

I heard a couple of people talking about registration, but all I had to do was write my name on a placard with a zip code. They also gave everyone a small sealed package containing a climate stick. The climate stick is a multi-colored visual aid that can be worn as a pendant that was created by Bay City environmentalist, Pat Rice. Its various colored sections represent components of CO2 in the atmosphere — a green natural level at the bottom, a black fossil fuel band that we’ve added, a yellow band that we’re adding and a red danger band on top. Earlier that day, I ran into another canman in the bottle room of a local grocery store — we’re something of a subculture. I mentioned to him that I was going to this event and my previous troubles on this campus and he said, “I’ll bet Pat Rice will be there.” It’s very rare that anybody I run into knows much about the climate issue much less any of the significant figures. He said he wasn’t much interested or even sympathetic to the subject. He just happened to know the guy.

I opted to watch from the balcony which was almost all students, many doing stuff on their laptops. This is after all a school. After McKibben finished his lecture at the podium, many of them did not stay for the onstage discussion, which included Pat Rice. It was pretty much a typical Bill McKibben speech. He’s a good speaker. You’d have to be to create a huge organization like he’s done. He’s also a talented writer. I did an Amazon review of one of his earlier books. He focused mostly on politics. He’s just started an organization of older people called Third Act. He also had a representative from a group or younger voters called NextGen America. Most of the big applause lines were for political goals I adamantly oppose such as shutting down a Michigan propane pipeline. I actually found a video of the presentation:

At the end I walked up towards the stage, but he was surrounded by fans taking selfies and such. As he walked out there were a lot of people talking with him. As I was following I saw Peter Sinclair. I went up to him and said I commented on his blog. I talked to him for a couple minutes. He was very nice and cordial. I joked that he was big and burly and I was afraid he might throw me out. He gave me a card and said he had stuff to attend to which he clearly did. I then grabbed a large cookie from the food table and headed out a bit disappointed to not meet Bill McKibben in person. But as I walked out the front entrance, there he was talking to a couple people who were just leaving. I pulled out a card that has my Klein bottle avatar and some URLs on it and handed it to him and said I was a skeptic blogger. He thanked me and I told him I’d written a post about Doyne Farmer. He replied, “Who?” I said, “the roulette guy” and he said, “oh yeah”. I left it at that.

via Climate Scepticism


April 30, 2023 at 03:01PM

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