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Bill McKibben on Trump, COP23 & His New Debut Novel, “Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance”

Web ExclusiveNovember 10, 2017
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Ahead of our trip to the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben joins us for an extended interview and discusses his newly published debut novel, Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Part 2 of our discussion with Bill McKibben. Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org. His first book, The End of Nature, published in 1989, almost 30 years ago, was the first book for a general audience about climate change. We’re headed off to the Bonn climate summit, and we’ll be broadcasting for a week from the U.N. climate summit. But right now, we’re joined by Bill McKibben to talk about—well, he’s written a number of books on climate change, but this is his first novel. And it’s called Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance.

Bill, it’s great to have you with us.

BILL McKIBBEN: Amy, thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: So, in Part 1, we discussed all the climate catastrophes of the last, it seems, few minutes, basically, even of just the last few weeks, and what’s happening with the Trump administration and what’s going to be happening in Bonn. But I don’t want you to leave without us talking about this very novel novel that you have written, Radio Free Vermont. Talk about this “fable of resistance.”

BILL McKIBBEN: So, I’ve been working on this for a number of years, just on the side occasionally, just to keep myself sane. But this seemed like the year to publish it. It did not seem like the year for yet another depressing dispatch from the world of science. We’re all beleaguered enough. It’s been a psychologically damaging 12 months, at least for me. And so, the chance to publish something funny and hopeful, that’s what I wanted to do right now. And that’s what this is.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, why don’t you start where you started the book?

BILL McKIBBEN: I’ll read you right from the beginning. This is in Vermont.

“The morning crowd at the Bennington Starbucks moved through the time-honored rituals with rote familiarity: ordering their caffeine and caramel in pidgin Italian, waiting like schoolkids for their names to be called, and then either exiting into the faintly cool January air or sinking childlike into an oversized, overplushed armchair for a hit of the Web. The stereo played, over and over, the same nine songs by aging—aged, actually—guitar hero Peter Frampton, now appropriately acoustic.

“Then, right in the middle of some melancholy chord, a voice crackled over the sound system, a voice that some people in the coffee shot immediately recognized. 'Greetings, Green Mountain Starbuckers,' said Vern Barclay in his deep radio baritone with just a hint of his Franklin County upbringing. 'This is a special message going out just to those of you in the nineteen Vermont Starbucks shops. The other 34,513 Starbucks scattered around the planet Earth and aboard our lazily orbiting space station will continue to listen to Mr. Frampton mark the launch of his new album on Starbucks' label. I know that all of us join in thanking the coffee giant for taking the musical icons of our various youths and encouraging them to noodle acoustically in the background, and it is a great pleasure to know that no matter which shop you visit, the soundtrack will be the same—it’s almost as reassuring as the muffled bu-dump bu-dump of the womb. But today, your friends here at Radio Free Vermont, “underground, underpowered, and underfoot,” wanted to take this opportunity to patch into the streaming Starbucks signal and remind you that we still have coffee shops in this state actually owned by Vermonters. Coffee shops where the money in the till doesn’t disappear back to Seattle, where the cream in the Mocha-Sexy CappaMolto comes from the cow down the road, and where the music on the stereo might actually come from your neighbors. You can find a list of those stores at RadioFreeVermont.org, if the authorities haven’t managed to shut it down today, and don’t bother telling them Vern sent you—they’ll know. Remember: small is kind of nice.’”

AMY GOODMAN: So that’s the opening paragraphs of Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance. So, it’s this septuagenarian who runs this radio station, and it’s the site of this subversive—

BILL McKIBBEN: What happened, he spent his life running a radio station, not unlike the one that carries your signal in Vermont, WDEV, I think the only commercial station in America that carries Democracy Now! But at a certain point, that good independent, local radio station got taken over by some big corporate entity, and he grew dissatisfied and, in a series of escapades, managed to find himself a fugitive. And now, with the help of a few tech-savvy friends, he’s mounting a kind of underground resistance, which turns in—sort of almost despite him, into a move for secession from the union for Vermont that engages people across the state, including Vermont’s many brewers. We’re the state with the most breweries per capita on the planet. And we take it—beer—extremely seriously.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, is this because—I mean, actually, this relates to climate change. Haven’t a number of West Coast breweries moved east, aside from the ones that grow up in states like Vermont, because of the lack of water?

BILL McKIBBEN: Well, water is going to be—water is going to be the ace in the hole, I fear, for our part of the world. We spent the last 50 years watching everybody move south and west to get away from winter. Well, there’s not much winter left up north anyway, and there is plenty of water, which is more than you can say for Arizona. There are people who’ve begun to worry a little bit about the tide flowing back the other way. We’ve got room for some people. I don’t think we can take all of Phoenix back in Vermont, but there’s room for some.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, you actually wrote a piece about breweries, what, 10, 15 years ago for The New Yorker?

BILL McKIBBEN: Longer ago than that, and it was for The Village Voice. It was when I was working at The New Yorker as a young man in New York. My friend David Edelstein, now the film critic for New York Magazine, and I did, I think, the first piece about microbreweries in America. There were only seven or eight of them then, and we went to all of them.

We liked the beer, but I particularly liked—and this is the kind of through line here—the fact that in the 1980s this was really the first stand against the kind of homogenized, corporatized consumer culture in our country. This campaign for real ale, that had come across the pond from England, morphed here into this amazing brewing industry that took us from 20 breweries in America in 1980—20 or 25, mostly big, you know, the Anheuser-Busches of the world—to the point where we now have 7,000, 8,000. There is not a town in America of any size or appeal that hasn’t managed to have at least one microbrewery there. When I think about the world going to hell—and, of course, I think about the world going to hell a good deal of the time—it is worth noting that you can definitely find better things to put in your mouth these days than when you and I were young.

AMY GOODMAN: So, there is a hijacking of a beer truck in this book.

BILL McKIBBEN: That’s true. The Coors Light truck coming across the bridge from New York is detained temporarily, and the Coors Light is emptied and replaced with cases from all 78 of Vermont’s microbreweries.

AMY GOODMAN: And you talked about the radio station that Radio Free Vermont is modeled on. In fact, it didn’t get taken—didn’t suffer a corporate takeover.

BILL McKIBBEN: No, it remains independent.

AMY GOODMAN: But the guy who’s the head of it, if you could talk about him as being a kind of model for this book?

BILL McKIBBEN: Yes. There’s a guy named—one of the models for this book is a guy named Ken Squier, whose father actually built this radio station in the 1930s and who has run it for many, many years. And Ken was also the voice of NASCAR for many, many years.

AMY GOODMAN: He brought NASCAR to Vermont.

BILL McKIBBEN: Yeah, well, he brought stock car racing to Vermont. But he went down to—he’s now in stock—the NASCAR Hall of Fame for his broadcasting. He’s a remarkable guy. Our politics don’t always align. But the key quote in the book, really, in a sense, comes from him, from a profile I did years ago of him for Harper’s. He was hosting the morning call-in show, and he was in favor of capital punishment and going on about why. And some caller called in and said—you know, laid out a list of the reasons that capital punishment is the poor idea that it is. And Ken said, “Well, I disagree with you, but you may be right.” And it suddenly struck me that that was the—that was the actual voice of a good working American civilization, and it is the voice we’ve increasingly lost in the kind of strident, hateful, mean place that we’ve become. The ability to believe firmly what you believe and yet still be able to talk with the people around you is a pretty nice one.

AMY GOODMAN: And isn’t Ken the famous voice every Saturday morning for his show?

BILL McKIBBEN: Music to Go to the Dump By, an institution if there ever was one in the Green Mountain State.

AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s go back to Radio Free Vermont and Vern and this subversive underground that’s communicating with each other through this radio station. Continue with their escapades. And if you’d like to read a little more from the book, feel free.

BILL McKIBBEN: Well, they face the problem that we all face of how to be heard in this world. And in these guys’ case, since they’re fugitives, it’s particularly hard. They can’t get really up on the web in the normal way, because they’d be quickly tracked down. But the young tech genius that’s with them has figured out, really, that—

AMY GOODMAN: How to—who figured out how to take over the Starbucks music system.

BILL McKIBBEN: Yes. And he figured out that the key was to just sort of remind himself that underneath the broadband fast internet, whatever, there still remains that old architecture that we first got used to of dialing up on the copper wires, you know? And even though nobody’s using it anymore, if you go to a garage sale and buy one of those old blinking modems, you can still, through the slow lane, get on the internet with enough power to bring a radio signal someplace. And so they’re broadcasting these podcasts, which—and people in Vermont start to get very excited by the whole thing. They begin—well, if you want, I’ll see if I can find the right page here and read you a—after one of these broadcasts.

“That very night, in fact, some Wikipedia-wielding historian noticed that it was the 247th anniversary of the day in 1777 when Vermont declared its independence from Britain.” Remember, Vermont was an independent republic for 15 years before it joined the other 13 American colonies. “Since [that man] also happened to be the Dorset volunteer fire chief, not to mention well into his second four-pack of Fiddlehead’s bracing Second Fiddle IPA, he sounded the siren on top of the firehouse for several minutes in celebration, which would have annoyed all the men who answered the call if he hadn’t had several four-packs in reserve. They had cell phones; before the deadline for the eleven p.m. news, half the towns on the western side of the state had sounded their alarms, and coverage on the late newscast from WVTV was enough to convince the Norwich, Vershire, and St. Johnsbury fire departments that they were missing out on the fun.

“The next morning, five postmasters in Caledonia County arrived at work to find the American flag neatly folded into a regulation triangle on the front steps, and a Vermont banner flying from the pole. Four replaced the flag; the fifth called the local newspaper to take a picture, and by noon that shot was spread across the New York Times website to illustrate a feature story titled 'In Quaint Green Mountain Hamlets, a Push for Independence.' …

“Vermont Public Radio put out a press release acknowledging that its switchboard had been overwhelmed with calls from listeners who thought it was 'un-Vermontlike' to continue describing itself as a member station of National Public Radio. 'We will take no position on this controversy,' the station said, adding, 'but we encourage all sides in this dispute to pledge their support in our winter fund drive, which begins tomorrow.'”

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Bill McKibben, reading from his new novel, his first novel, Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance. So, OK, it gains momentum, a little—would you call this a little Catalanesque, like Catalonia?

BILL McKIBBEN: Yes, there’s a little bit of that. But—

AMY GOODMAN: So your book comes out at a very propitious time.

BILL McKIBBEN: Yes, I’m afraid. You know, it’s not really an argument for secession, however. Vermont, I don’t think, can secede from the union. We’re a very old—I think we’re the second-oldest state in America. All it would take is threatening to cut off Social Security, and we would capitulate immediately. California, on the other hand, I always wonder how long that’s going to last. California has 40 million people. It’s an economy the size of Germany’s. I mean, by itself, it’s the fifth-largest economy in the world. And it’s got the same two senators that we have in Vermont? That’s ridiculous. I mean, at a certain point—

AMY GOODMAN: How many people in Vermont?

BILL McKIBBEN: Six hundred thousand. At a certain point, California, I think, may just say, “We’re not entirely sure what benefit we get from being a part of this thing, you know? And there’s a big mountain range between us and the rest of you. And Washington and Oregon, up above us, they might want to come with us, too. Who knows?”

AMY GOODMAN: So, actually, isn’t Jerry Brown, the governor of California, going to be leading a major climate summit?

BILL McKIBBEN: Jerry Brown has a big climate summit—that’s a really good point—in September of next year for what we’re now calling—the new state of—term of art is “subnational actors.” Since the Paris process is in process of imploding, thanks to Donald Trump, it’s, around the world, governors, regional leaders, mayors, all coming together to do their part. And it’s pretty exciting to watch how quickly that’s happening.

We’ve been helping run, at 350—Sierra Club, lots of people have been running this campaign to get cities to pledge that they’ll go 100 percent renewable. And, you know, when it started, it was the obvious places—Berkeley signed right up, Madison. But now it’s, you know, Atlanta, San Diego, Salt Lake City. Last week, Saint Louis, home base to Peabody Coal and Arch Coal, the two biggest coal companies in America, it said it would be running on renewable energy by 2035. So, the future may lie—I mean, it’s true that the most obvious and efficient way to address a global problem—and they don’t call it “global warming” for nothing—would be to have a global agreement to get something done. But since the U.S., at the behest of the fossil fuel industry, has managed for decades to keep that global agreement from ever really happening, Trump’s stuff being just the latest stage, we’re going to have to figure out some other ways to do it. It’s not ideal, by any means, but it’s good to see people in localities standing up.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain actually how it would work, Trump pulling the United States out of the Paris climate accord, because it actually can’t happen, the way they’ve written it, ’til 2020—

BILL McKIBBEN: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —’til the day after the election that he might or might now win.

BILL McKIBBEN: Might or might not win. Look, who knows if he can officially pull us out of the accord or not? But what he can and has done is gut the thing by refusing to keep any of our promises. Remember that the reason we have this weird hodgepodge of an agreement instead of a treaty was entirely out of deference to the U.S. to begin with. Everybody knew that the U.S. Senate would never have the votes, thanks to the fossil fuel industry, to have approved by a two-thirds majority a treaty that did anything about climate change. So, instead, the entire rest of the world abandoned their negotiating—you know, long-term negotiating posture and cobbled together this jury-rigged thing in Paris that was a series of voluntary promises by one nation after another. Even in the face of that, we blew the whole thing up. So, you know, the notion that the United States is a serious power anymore is—you know, yes, we have a lot of nuclear weapons, but that’s about what we’ve got at this point.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to President Trump talking about representing Pittsburgh and not Paris.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.

AMY GOODMAN: So that’s President Trump saying he represents Pittsburgh, not Paris. What was the response?

BILL McKIBBEN: It was one of the better—it was one of the better-raised middle fingers I’ve ever seen in American politics. A couple hours later, the mayor of Pittsburgh, Bill Peduto, went on TV to say, “You know what, Mr. President? The city of Pittsburgh is going 100 percent renewable energy. Thank you very much.” That’s the—that’s the attitude and the step that we’ve all got to take in response to this kind of nonsense.

AMY GOODMAN: So talk about what the alternatives are. You’ve done a lot of traveling recently. And I don’t think we hear as much about this. People say we have to come off of the fossil fuel economy. What are countries, people, communities doing?

BILL McKIBBEN: So, the good news—the basic piece of information to understand is, over the last 10 years, the price of renewable energy has dropped so fast and so sharply, the price of a solar panel down about 80 percent over that period, that we no longer have a serious obstacle to moving to renewable power. Ten years ago, it was too expensive. Now it’s the cheapest way of producing electrons anyplace on the planet.

And you can see that everywhere. I was—spent, for The New Yorker, much of the spring in—first in West Africa, in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, and then in Tanzania, and wrote a piece about the speed with which rural parts of Africa are now getting power for the first time, thanks to solar panels. These are places—I mean, there’s still more people on our planet with no power than there were the day that Thomas Edison unveiled the first light bulb. There’s more than a billion people on the planet who don’t have electricity, most of them in Africa. And they’re not ever going to get it—I mean, this generation, the next generation. The World Bank says there will still be half a billion people in Africa with no power by 2050, if we just wait—

AMY GOODMAN: And now add Puerto Rico.

BILL McKIBBEN: —for the grid to spread out. Not to mention the people who are losing it as we have hurricanes. So instead of waiting for the grid to come, what’s starting to happen is the price of those panels has dropped so fast that entrepreneurs are figuring out how to let people, for the 30 cents a day they’re spending on kerosene now for one guttering lamp in the corner, producing smoke and not much light—for that 30 cents a day, people are able to have a solar panel, three or four LED light bulbs, a cellphone charger, maybe a small television. They go very quickly into at least the beginnings of what we’d recognize as the modern world.

And sometimes it’s incredibly moving to watch it happen. I was sitting around with a bunch of chiefs at a village in Ghana that had installed a solar microgrid the week before. It’s always hot there. It’s near the Equator. It’s like 95 degrees. They kept handing me bottles of cold water to drink, which I was grateful for. But in my clueless way, it took me a few minutes to figure out why they were so proud of this. Until the solar microgrid went in, there had never, ever been cold anything in this village, because there had never, ever been a refrigerator. If you think about it, it’s almost a miracle. You can turn a piece of plate glass with a little bit of silicon wedged in it. You point it at the sun, and out the back comes cold and light and communications and all the things we take for granted. That’s a miracle. And it’s the miracle that we could use, if we wanted to, to really save an awful lot of what’s at stake here. The reason we’re not, obviously, is because miracles to the rest of us, curse to the fossil fuel industry, for whom it undercuts the business model that’s made them the profitable industry on the planet.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about China and climate change.

BILL McKIBBEN: China has decided that it’s going to use climate change as its wedge into assuming a kind of both moral and economic high ground on this planet. They’re clearly rallying the rest of the world to try and keep the Paris accord alive, to do something about climate change. And at the same time, they’re making sure that they’re going to own the industries of the future. They have a very well-thought-out plan around electric vehicles, around the production of solar panels, around batteries for electricity storage—this probably the trinity of technologies for the next century. Meanwhile, the United States is busy trying to consolidate our position in the coal industry, an 18th century technology if there ever was one. Watching the passing of the torch from the United States, with a series of just almost unbelievable blunders of every kind, to the Chinese, authoritarians though they are, with enough foresight to at least see what direction the world is going in, that’s a painful moment for those of us who love this country.

China is in an interesting place, of course. They face real problems from climate change. The Pearl River Delta is a meter or two above sea level. That’s where all these trillions of dollars’ worth of manufacturing capacity are. More to the point, the ongoing fossil-fueled smog and pollution in their cities is probably the biggest threat to the legitimacy of the party, the thing that they worry about the most, because people, at a certain point, just won’t put up with watching their kids get asthma year after year after year. So they’re moving aggressively now. They’re putting up renewable energy at a pace that we’ve never seen before on this planet. And that’s, of course, the thing that’s helping, more than anything else, to drive down the cost of renewable energy for everybody.

AMY GOODMAN: But certainly, entrepreneurs, you know, very serious capitalists, in the United States see this.

BILL McKIBBEN: Oh, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: They see the competition. So what are people doing?

BILL McKIBBEN: So this is where the money is—I mean, this is where—this is where a lot of investment capital has begun to go. And, of course, those of us in the movement, in a strange way, are trying to help this process along. We’ve run this big divestment campaign, as you know, around the world to get people to sell their stock in fossil fuel and move it into renewable energy. It’s been wildly successful. We’re up to closing in on $6 trillion worth of portfolios in endowments that have divested, in part or in whole, from fossil fuel.

We’re in the middle of a big fight right now here in New York City, which, though all its Democratic leaders talk a good game about climate change, still invest the city’s pension funds in precisely the companies that are threatening to drown the city of New York. The key player is this guy Scott Stringer, the comptroller of New York. We just had 2,500 people at Carnegie Hall at a big, wonderful Pathway to Paris concert last week. In between Patti Smith and Joan Baez, they all patiently sat there at Carnegie Hall and wrote letters to Comptroller Stringer, saying, “Look, the time has long since passed for us to take this seriously. No more delay. Get the city out of this business.”

AMY GOODMAN: What do you say to those who say you should stay investing and engage in investor activism?

BILL McKIBBEN: So, investor activism actually works pretty well for lots of things, like if the problem is Apple is not paying its Chinese workers enough. Then we can do all kind of proxy votes and boycotts and whatever. And then Apple pays them a little more, and the price of an iPhone goes up a dollar, and everybody’s happy. OK?

That’s not the case with the fossil fuel industry. Exxon’s problem is not that there’s a small flaw in their business plan that needs tweaking. Exxon’s problem is their business plan. That’s the flaw. All they do is dig stuff up and burn it. And the job is to remove the social license that’s made them the most powerful corporation in the world, they and their ilk. And the only way to do that is to break ties in powerful ways.

The irony is looking at the people who have really figured that out. What was one of the first big funds to divest from fossil fuel? It was the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. This was the original oil fortune. These guys know the politics of energy about as well as anybody else. They said, “We’re no longer comfortable on moral grounds, and we think it’s ridiculous on financial grounds, to be invested in yesterday’s technology.” Being Rockefellers, they’ve made a lot of money in the three or four years since they invested, because the fossil fuel sector has underperformed every other part of the economy. It’s workers in places like New York City that are losing money, because our leaders are too gutless to do the right thing.

AMY GOODMAN: So, how do you make it not replicate the kind of concentration of wealth and power?

BILL McKIBBEN: That’s what’s interesting about solar power and wind power. Some people are going to get rich doing this, no question. And given the speed with which we have to work, I don’t think there’s probably any way around that. But unlike coal and gas and oil, which are scarce and concentrated in a few places, OK—and hence the people who happen to live on top of or control those places become inordinately wealthy and powerful. Think about the Koch brothers, who control the pipelines that can, you know, carry oil and gas back and forth across our continent. That’s how they became the richest man on the planet, taken together. And that’s how they became the most politically influential people in our society, OK?

Wind and sun aren’t like that. They’re diffuse, but ubiquitous. There’s some wind and some sun everywhere on the planet. And so, almost naturally, you begin to have a somewhat more localized and democratized energy system, and that removes some of that power base. It’s why one of the most subversive things that one can do is push hard for renewable energy at this point.

AMY GOODMAN: We were just in Puerto Rico talking to UTIER, which is the utility company workers. And PREPA—

BILL McKIBBEN: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —is the largest public power utility in the United States. And we were talking about Tesla saying, “We can make Puerto Rico this amazing model,” and asking them if they were willing—how they feel about this and how you can make this alternative energy, solar, wind power, and have it benefit the workers, not to mention all the residents, the three-and-a-half million residents of Puerto Rico, and not get concentrated, like we’re seeing these contracts, Whitefish, you know, Energy getting a $300 million contract, and, only under enormous pressure, having some of it canceled.

BILL McKIBBEN: People like Elizabeth Yeampierre, here in New York, at UPROSE, people like that, who have good ties to the islands, have been working hard to try and imagine that kind of future. There’s a lot of people working on it, because it makes so much sense. Puerto Rico gets endless sunshine. And why would you—having watched what happened with Maria, why would you just go and set up the bowling pins in the alley one more time so that they can get knocked over again? And yet that’s what FEMA seems intent on doing, hiring a bunch of people like Whitefish Energy to come and try to restring the wires around the country for the next year. If instead you built out a robust system of microgrids, town by town, powered by solar panels, well, when the hurricane comes, you know, some—a few trees might fall on a few solar panels. You can go and replace those. What you can’t—you wouldn’t have to do this incredibly difficult task of rewiring an entire island in order to bring power back.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Bill, I know you have to go. This piece you wrote in The New Yorker just a month or two ago, “I Went All the Way to the Alaskan Wilderness to Escape Donald Trump, But You Don’t Have To.”

BILL McKIBBEN: Yeah, I spent some time up in the Brooks Range. And it was wonderful to be out of range of Twitter, I must say. It was a reminder of how deep he’s gotten in our heads. Sadly, as I got back to the real world, the news came that of course the Republicans are hard at work trying to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, because, you know, nothing says oil like “wildlife refuge,” you know? It’s a grotesque plan, and grotesque because of the damage it will do to Alaska, but even more so because, at the moment, we have a safe storage container for huge amounts of carbon that we need to keep underground. Even if we get it out of Alaska without spilling a drop of it on the tundra or in the ocean, then it’s going to spill into the atmosphere. That one wildlife refuge is the equivalent of opening 800 new coal-fired power plants and running them for a year. The mistakes we’re making right now are so epic, and the results will be in geologic time. It is depressing as hell, which is why I needed to take a few weeks anyway and write a little bit, that cheered me up anyhow.

AMY GOODMAN: What are the areas of activism that give you the most hope, and the alternative energy projects—I mean, maybe one day fossil fuel will be called “alternative energy,” and it’ll be solar and wind—that, in this country and around the world, that give you the most hope?

BILL McKIBBEN: This fight for 100 percent renewable energy in community after community is really important. We want pledges to take to that California summit next September from thousands of communities around the world. But the fight to keep the stuff in the ground, to fight every new fossil fuel project, that continues. Even in the face of Trump, people are fighting desperately and valiantly to prevent the Keystone pipeline from getting built, and a thousand others that sprung up in the wake of that Keystone fight. We win a lot of those fights, which is good news.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think you’ll win again on Keystone XL, since President Trump—

BILL McKIBBEN: I don’t know. It’s going to be—

AMY GOODMAN: —greenlighted that and DAPL?

BILL McKIBBEN: It’s going to be—it’s going to be a hell of a hard fight to win. But we will try hard. And for eight years at least, we’ve kept 800,000 barrels of the dirtiest oil on the planet underground every day. More to the point, it gave birth to this movement that opposes everything. As the head of the American Petroleum Institute said somewhat plaintively not long ago, we somehow have to figure out a way to stop the Keystonization of everything that we’re doing. You know, we’ve never been able—

AMY GOODMAN: Which means?

BILL McKIBBEN: Means all this endless fight over every single frack well and coal mine. And we’ve never been able to get a federal carbon tax, right? The fossil fuel industry has been too strong. But as Naomi Klein said at one point, with this fight, this endless fight against all these projects, in effect, we have imposed a de facto carbon tax with our bodies. And that’s been an important part of helping drive investment in the direction of renewable energy, which we desperately need.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Bill McKibben, I want to thank you so much for being with us. Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org. His first book, The End of Nature, the first book for a general audience about climate change, that was 1989, almost 30 years ago. He’s written many books since then about the issue. His latest book is a novel, which is based in his home state. It’s called Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance.

To see Part 1 of our discussion, go to democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks so much for joining us.

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