Fossil fuels could be the key to a green future. Bill McKibben, the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences would likely disagree however. McKibbon is the self described person who “spearheaded the resistance to the Keystone Pipeline, and launched the fast-growing fossil fuel divestment movement.” But with so many environmental predictions that never came to be, we began to wonder if he has ever gotten anything wrong. Sure enough here are five glaring mistakes:
1. Reduce Fossil Fuel Use 60%
This may sound all well and good to some, but the problem is this idea was suggested by McKibben in an article for The Atlantic Monthly way back in 1998. He called for, “an immediate 60 percent reduction in fossil-fuel use is necessary just to stabi- lize climate at the current level of disruption. Nature may still meet us halfway, but halfway is a long way from where we are now. What’s more, we can’t delay. If we wait a few decades to get started, we may as well not even begin.” Given that this scenario was given 17 years ago and none of these predictions have come to pass, we aren’t surprised that this particular article isn’t linked to on his website.
2. Reduce Fossil Fuel Use 95%
Undeterred by his previous assertions and doomsday predictions, Bill McKibben again called for a mandatory reduction of fossil fuel use, but this time at a rate of 95%, according to Alex Epstein. Epstein refutes this claim with, “The proven science about climate illustrates a mere half-degree warming in the last 70 years, including virtually no warming in the last 15” and uses a chart from The Daily Mall prove it.
3. The Glaciers are Melting
Depending on if you believe that global warming will cause a new ice age, this particular assertion can be right or wrong. However, back in 1998 he wrote an article for The Atlantic Online predicting that, “the glaciers won’t grow back again anytime soon,” among other predictions. As little as ten years later, various sources report most glaciers across the globe were in fact growing.
4. Fossil Fuels Cause Wars
In his book “Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet,” McKibben asserts that we as a nation and globe may descend into several wars over water, food, and other resources, including fossil fuels. “On the new world we’ve built, conflict seems as likely as cooperation.” He continued to write these practices, “were the norm until about three centuries ago…[and]…may again come to define human life.” However, John Horgan of Scientific American counters with a study done by Carol and Melvin Ember for Yale University. This study examined 186 wars and found “the strongest correlate of warfare was a history of unpredictable natural disasters—such as floods, droughts and insect infestations—that had disrupted food supplies…it was not the disasters themselves that precipitated war, but the memory of past disasters and hence the fear of future ones. Another correlate was a society’s distrust of neighboring societies.”
5. The Fossil Fuel Industry is Funded by Lobbyists and Large Donors
Although this may be true and these donors may also be known as “investors,” the very same holds true for McKibben and his Step it Up, 1Sky, and 350.org organizations who have collectively taken in approximately $10 million in tax free dollars as of 2013. According to the Financial Post, most of these funds came from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Rockefeller Family Fund, and the very same Schumann Center for Media and Democracy for which he is employed, which may not be illegal but doesn’t give him solid ground when asking for ethics during fund raising.
Lilia Fabry is the owner of MPP Freelance, a writing and web design firm in Houston, TX.