Climate Corner: A climate hero

Jun 29, 2024

Giulia Mannarino

William Earnest McKibben is an American environmentalist, journalist and author who has written extensively on the impact of global warming. In 1989, at the age of 28, Bill McKibben wrote “The End of Nature,” the first book written for a general audience about climate change. This book has been translated into 24 languages and McKibben has gone on to write twenty more books. He also is a regular contributor to periodicals from The New Yorker to Rolling Stone. McKibben has been an educator for a quarter century at Middlebury College, in west central Vermont, and is now Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies. He has won honorary degrees from 20 colleges and universities and was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes called the alternative Nobel. He also has been awarded the Gandhi Peace Prize.

In 2008, McKibben was one of the founders, alongside a group of seven students, of and he recently retired as its leader. This was the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement. It has since organized thousands of climate action protests on every continent, even Antarctica. The 42 minute documentary “Do The Math” can still be viewed on the website. This classic video details the movement to change the terrifying math of climate change and keep levels of atmospheric toxic discharges of CO2 below known safe levels. Countless scientists, climate experts, and government officials agree that 350 ppm (parts per million) is the “safe” level of carbon dioxide. “PPM” is a way of measuring the ratio of carbon dioxide molecules to all of the other molecules in the atmosphere. Currently, recent daily average readings for atmospheric CO2 are now 423.52ppm. The increases are attributed to human use of fossil fuel including coal, oil and gas. Natural gas releases methane, an even hotter and longer lasting global warming greenhouse gas than CO2. McKibben has also played a leading role in spearheading the opposition and resistance to big oil pipeline projects like Keystone XL. More recent videos emphasize the need to end the fossil fuel era and promote a just transition as well as payment for climate damages by Big Oil industries responsible. Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action (MOVCA) has been associated with since its founding in 2015 and our local group is listed on their website as part of Get Involved link.

McKibben stepped down as board chair of in 2015 and left the board and his volunteer role as senior advisor in 2020, accepting emeritus status. The global news magazine, Foreign Policy named him to its inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers. Now a senior citizen, Bill McKibben, has helped launch the fast growing fossil fuel divestment movement, known, with an intentional explanation point, as Th!rd Act. The third act of life refers to the stage of life after retirement, typically starting in one’s 60s or 70s. Presently, this group is made up of the baby boomers who, coincidentally, were influenced by the era of the 1960s and 1970s. Our growing up years constitute the first act, our second act includes our middle years focusing on career and family, and our third act is ours to choose. It is when people have more freedom and time to pursue their passions and interests without the constraints of work and career. It can be a time for reflection, self-discovery, and reinvention. We have an opportunity to create a better quality of life, leave a legacy or pursue our life-long dreams. Th!rd Act organizes people of all ages but especially 60+ for actions on climate and justice issues. This group, generally has the most assets and also is the fastest growing part of the population today. fossil fuel divestment campaign has become the biggest anti-corporate campaign in history, with endowments worth more than $40 trillion stepping back from oil, gas and coal. Th!rd Actors are encouraged to withdraw funds held in banks that contribute to fossil fuel industries and invest in smaller banks or credit unions that use their funds sustainably by helping promote housing and community development. Th!rd Act has organized, by geographic locations, into volunteer run Working Groups. The W.G.s organize meetings, engage in local/national activities, maintain web pages and communicate with local volunteers. Third Act Ohio, based out of Athens County, is the closest active group and welcomes new members, of any age, Ohioan or not.


Giulia Mannarino of Belleville, is a grandmother concerned about her two granddaughters’ futures and a member of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action.