Do the Math – The Movie

Like most people, I’m not an activist by nature. There’s really not that many people whose greatest desire it to go out and fight the system. My theory of change was I’ll write my book, people will read it and they’ll change. But that’s not how change happens. So I’ve been kind of forced to go against my sense of who I am most comfortable being. It seems like it’s the things that’s required now and I think it’s probably required that an awful lot of us doing things that are a little hard for us, make a little noise, be a little uncomfortable, push other people to be a little uncomfortable. This is really the fight of our time. It’s official: 2012 was the hottest year in the United States since weather scientists started keeping records. 2012 was not only the warmest year on record, but also the second most extreme, featuring tornadoes, wild fires, a massive drought. Rising seas due to climate change. Heat trapping gases from burning oil, coal and gas. 10.9 billion dollars in profits, people look at this and say that’s a world turned upside down. Listening to your testimony makes me even more convinced that we need to act to prevent cataclysmic climate change. BP cut corner after corner and now the whole gulf coast is paying the price. How can you justify the record profits you’re making? Well our business is one of very large numbers. Okay, let’s bring out Bill, he’s an environmentalism and president and co-founder of And my guest Bill McKibben, our nation’s leading environmentalist. We started this thing called We’re going out and building the kind of political movement that will change things. We just announced this road show out across the country to really try take it at the fossil fuel industry. People are just lining up to try and get involved in this fight. Well, thank you all, thank you all so much for being here today. It is a great pleasure for me to get to be here tonight and one of the gifts for me of these last few months was getting, tiring as it was in a sense, to travel around the country. And one of the things that was great was just being reminded was what an incredibly beautiful place this is. You know, we got to Denver and it was gorgeous but the air was full of smoke from fires still burning in December after the biggest fire season ever and we got through this gorgeous farmland, much of it still-60% of it still in a federally declared drought. But it’s also worth just saying that it’s a terrible thing to take a world this beautiful and, for the sake of outsized profits for a few people for a little while, lay it to waste. Tonight’s the start of the last campaign I may really get to fight. Not ’cause I’m getting tired but because the planet’s getting tired. In the world that we’ve built where our institutions aren’t working the way they should, we have to do more than we should. That news doesn’t depress me. In a sense it excites me, because I think we know what we need to do. I think we’ve peeled away the layers of the onion. We’ve got to the very heart of things. As of tonight, we’re taking on the fossil fuel industry directly. The moment has come where we have to take a real stance, we’re reaching limits. The biggest limit that we’re running into may be that we’re running our of atmosphere into which to put the waste products of our society, particularly the carbon dioxide that is the ubiquitous biproduct of burning fossil fuels. You burn coal or oil or gas, you get CO2 and the atmosphere is now filling up with it. We know what the solutions for dealing with this trouble are, many of the technologies we need to get off fossil fuel and onto something else. The thing that is preventing us from doing it is the enormous political power wielded by those who have made and are making vast windfall profits off of fossil fuels. Well, there have been a lot of efforts by scientists to try to estimate whether we are living sustainably in the sense of whether we’re consuming planetary resources at a rate that can be continued. The threat that this combination that climate change, water shortages, food shortages and rising energy prices is enormously troubling to anyone who’s aware of the data and the way these issues could play out. You can’t keep increasing your economy infinitely on a finite planet. One of the things that humanity is facing is the need to dramatically reduce its carbon footprint over the next 40 years. And we’re talking in the wealthy countries about 80 to 90% reductions. We’re no longer at the point of trying to stop global warming. Too late for that. We’re at the point of trying to keep it from becoming a complete and utter calamity. We shouldn’t have to be here tonight. If the world worked in a kind of rational way, we shouldn’t have to be here. 25 years ago our scientists started telling us about climate change. I played my small role in that by writing the first book about all this in 1989 for a general audience, a book called The End of Nature. If the world worked as it should, our leaders would have heeded those warning, gone to work, done the sensible things that at the time would have been enough to get us a long way to where we needed to go. They didn’t. And that’s why we’re in the fix we’re in. This is the biggest emergency the human family has faced since it came out of the caves. There is nothing bigger. All these issues matter: immigration and health care and education. But this one is really about the physical change of the planet. We all have been saying we need to save the planet. But as I think about it, the planet’s going to be around for some time to come. What’s at stake now is civilization itself. Our most important climatologist, Jim Hansen, has his team at NASA do a study to figure out how much carbon in the atmosphere was too much. The paper they published may be the most important scientific paper of the millenium to date, said we now know enough to know how much is too much. Any value for carbon in the atmosphere greater than 350 parts per million is not compatible with the planet on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted. That’s pretty strong language for scientists to use. Stronger still if you know that outside today, the atmosphere is 395 parts per million CO2. And rising at about 2 parts per million per year. Everything frozen on earth is melting. The great ice sheet of the arctic is reduced by more than half, the oceans are about 30% more acidic than they were 30 years ago because the chemistry of sea water changes as it absorbs carbon from the atmosphere. And because warm air holds more water vapor than cold, the atmosphere is about 5% wetter than it was 40 years ago. That’s an astonishingly large change. There’s more energy coming in and being absorbed by the earth than there is heat being radiated to space, which is exactly what we expected because as we add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, it traps heat. Now we can measure that and that’s the basis by which we can prove that the human made impacts on atmospheric composition are the primary cause of the climate change that we’re observing. So let’s get to work. We’re calling this Do the Math and we’re gonna do some math for a moment. Just three numbers, okay? I wrote about them in a piece last summer for Rolling Stone. A piece that went oddly viral. It was the issue with Justin Bieber on the cover, but here’s the strange thing: The next day I got a call from the editor saying, “Your piece has gotten ten times more likes on Facebook than Justin Bieber’s.” Some of that is doubtless the result of my sort of soulful stare, you know. But mostly it’s because we managed to just kind of lay out this math in a very straight forward way that people needed to understand as we were going through what turned out to be the hottest year that America has ever experienced. Before we get to those three numbers, here’s where we are so far: We’ve burned enough coal and gas and oil to raise the temperature of the earth one degree. What has that done? There was a day last September when the headline in the paper was “Half the Polar Ice Cap is missing.” Literally. I mean if Neil Armstrong were up on the moon today, he’d look down and see half as much area of ice in the arctic. We’ve taken one of the largest physical features on earth and we have broken it. Shall we work through the numbers? There are three, and they’re easy. The first one’s 2 degrees. That’s how much the world has said it would be safe to let the planet warm. In political terms, it’s the only thing that anybody’s agreed to. Some of you may remember that climate summit in Copenhagen. There was only one number in the final two page voluntary accord that people signed. Only one number in it: 2 degrees. Every signatory pledged to make sure the temperature wouldn’t rise about that. The EU, Japan, Russia, China, countries that make their money selling oil like the United Arab Emirates, the most conservative, recalcitrant, reluctant countries on earth. Even the United States. If the world officially believes anything about climate changes it’s that 2 degrees is too much. Second number that scientists have calculated is how much carbon we can pour into the atmosphere and have a reasonable chance of staying below two degrees. They say about 565 more gigatons. A gigaton is a billion tons. That’s not a perfect chance, that’s worse odds than Russian roulette, you know. Sounds like is should – it is a lot, 565 billions tons of CO2. The problem is we pour 30 billion tons a year now and it goes up 3% a year. Do the math and it’s about 15 years before go past that threshold. So that’s sobering news. But the scary number is the third number. The third number was the important one and the new one and it came from a team of financial analysts in the United Kingdom. And what they did was sit down with all the annual reports and SEC filings and things to figure out how much carbon the world’s fossil fuel industry, how much they had already in their reserves and that number turned out to be 2795 gigatons worth of carbon. Five times as much as the most conservative governments on earth think would be safe to pour into the atmosphere. It’s not even close. I mean, it’s five times more. Once you know that number, then you understand the essence of this problem. What the fossil fuel industry is doing is locking us into a future that we can’t survive, that humanity cannot survive. And we know this because just at the end of 2012 we heard this from three different conservative sources simultaneously: The World Bank, The International Energy Agency, Price Waterhouse Cooper, hardly a hippy outfit. All told us that if we do nothing but more of the same, if we dig up those reserves, we are headed toward 4-6 degrees warming celsius. These numbers show, and I want to be absolutely clear here, these companies are a rogue force, they’re outlaws. They’re not outlaws against the laws of the state. They get to write those for the most part. But they’re outlaw against the laws of physics. If they carry out their business plan, the planet tanks. We have all the engineers and entrepreneurs we need. The thing that’s hold us back above all else is the simple fact that the fossil fuel industry cheats. Alone among industries, they’re allowed to pour out their waste for free. Nobody should be able to pollute for free. You can’t, I can’t. We can’t walk out of here and go litter for free. If you do, you get a fine. If you run a small business, you can’t just dump the garbage in the road, you’ve got to pay to have it hauled away or you get a fine. The only people who can pollute for free are these megapolluters when it comes to carbon: big oil, big coal. If you get a $25 fine for littering, you’re going to pay $25 more than all of the industrial polluters have ever paid in 150 years for the carbon they’ve been dumping. That’s how whack this whole thing is. It’s almost how we define civilization. You pick up after yourself unless you’re the fossil fuel industry. Then you pour that carbon into the atmosphere for free and that is the advantage that keeps us from getting renewable energy at the pace that we need. We should internalize that externality. The only reason we haven’t is because it would impair somewhat the record profitability of the fossil fuel industry and so they have battled at every turn to keep it from happening. These are rogue companies now. Once upon a time, they performed a useful social function. For a long time, the US’s engine was fossil fuels like oil and coal to power trains, to power cars, to power industry. In the mid 1900’s we realized there were consequences. If you look at industries like coal now, we just did a report with Harvard Medical School that showed that if they actually paid for what they’re doing to us, what we’re paying indirectly for that electricity, coal would cost anywhere from 3 to far more times their current cost. They would be out of business and that is just, financially and morally, bankrupt. When a utility burns coal, it is the cheapest source of fuel, but they’re not paying the full price. The externalities, the additional costs to society, to human health, to the environment, are not factored in as a cost of doing business. We subsidize the fossil fuel industries. We are paying them to continue to keep polluting and this means all kinds of things: it’s tax breaks, it’s loans, it’s the fact that armies protect their pipelines and protect their trade routes. You’re helping them stay on top and preventing their competitors like renewable fuels from competing. What we need is a level playing field. We could be using that public money, tax-payer money, to make the shift to green energy. Occasionally they will pretend to be seeing the light. Ten years ago, BP announced that their initials now stand for Beyond Petroleum and they got a new logo and put some solar panels on some gas stations and they invested a tiny bit of money, a pittance in solar and wind research. Even that proved too much, three years ago they sold off those divisions and said that from now on they were going to concentrate on their core business. Which turned out to be basically wrecking the Gulf of Mexico. Why are they so fixated on hydrocarbons? Because these are the most profitable enterprises in human history. The top five oil companies last year made 137 billion dollars. That’s 375 million dollars every day. That’s a lot of money. They got 6.6 million dollars in federal tax breaks daily. They spent $440,000 a day lobbying congress. Rex Tillerson, the head of Exxon, made $100,000 a day. Which, by the way, one of my favorite talking points is that climate scientists make up their findings because they’re in it for the grant money, okay. The only problem that these companies have now is that the scientists are watching in real time while they pull off this heist and it’s getting harder to deny. In fact, they’re being to kind of admit what’s going on. Last summer, for the very first time, the CEO of Exxon, Mr. Tillerson gave a speech in which he said, yes, it’s true. Global warming exists. Clearly there’s gonna be an impact so I’m not disputing that increasing CO2 emissions is going to have an impact. It’ll have a warming impact. But since the only way to stop that would be to take a hit to the company’s profitability, he immediately tried to change the subject. It’s an engineering problem and it has engineering solutions. Really? What kind of engineering solutions were you thinking? Changes to weather patterns that move crop production areas around, we’ll adapt to that. Look, I mean all respect, but that’s crazy talk. We can’t move crop production areas around, okay. Crop production areas are what people in Vermont refer to as farms, okay. We already have farms every where that there is decent soil on earth. It is true that Exxon has done all it can to melt the tundra, but that does not mean that you can just move Iowa up there and start over again. There is no soil. If fossil fuel companies want to change, here’s how we’d know they’re serious: One, they’d need to stop lobbying in Washington. Two, they’d need to stop exploring for new hydrocarbons. The first rule of holes is that when you are in one, stop digging, okay. And the third thing they’d need to do is go to work with the rest of us to figure out the plan where they turn themselves into energy companies, not fossil fuel companies and figure out with the rest of us how to keep 80% of those reserves underground. The thing that really does make this almost pathological is the fact that when we already have almost five times as much carbon as we can possibly burn, I mean Exxon alone: 100 million dollars a day exploring for new hydrocarbons. By this point we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. I mean we’re in tar sands, we’re doing shale oil, we’re doing fracking, we’re doing mountain top removal, we’re doing deep sea drilling, we’re taking apart the earth to look for the last bits of gas and oil and coal. I find that when I get depressed, the best antidote by far is action and I think that that’s true for most people. The problem with climate change is that it seems too big for any of us ourselves to take on. And ideed it is. It’s only when we’re working with other people, as many other people as possible, that we have any hope. So that’s why I spend my time trying to build movements. I think it’s the only chance we’ve got. Anybody can get involved. There’s always stuff to be done and more of it all the time. That’s what movements look like. We started in 2008 and when I say we I mean me and seven undergraduates at Middlebury College. We had the deep desire to try and do some global organizing about the first really global problem this planet’s ever faced. And we spread out around the planet and for the next year or so we found people all over this earth who wanted to work with us. We asked them all to take one day and this was our first big day of action was in the fall of 2009. We said, Will you all join us for one day? Will you do something on that day to take this most important number, 350, and drive it into the information bloodstream of the planet? For the next 48 hours, pictures just poured in many a minute. Before it was over, there’d been 5200 demonstrations in 181 countries. CNN called it the most widespread day of political activity in the planet’s history. Cities across the globe have gathered today to rally for solutions to climate change. Locations around the globe. Hundreds of environment campaigners gathered in Edinborgh today. So we’ve gone on since then to do more of these big days of action. We work in every country but North Korea. We have had about 20,000 rallies or so. And we’ve gone on to do more direct things: spearhead the fight against the Keystone Pipeline, organize the largest civil disobedience action in thirty years. Now the high stakes battle over whether the Obama administration should approve a major oil pipeline bisecting the US. It would transfer tar sands from Alberta, Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico. The type of oil the pipeline would carry is far more toxic. Among the dirtiest of all fossil fuels. This pipeline has proven to be very controversial. To the federal government to decide whether or not to give Keystone XL the green light. Tar sands is destructive in and of itself but it’s also symbolic of a way of developing, a way of growing our economy that just can’t be sustained. Right now a company called TransCanada has applied to build a new pipeline to speed more oil from Cushing to state-of-the-art refineries down in the Gulf Coast and today I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles and make this project a priority. August was the beginning of the people’s veto of this whole proposal. We will never give up until the very idea of Keystone XL is dead and buried. Tar sands are the turning point in our fossil fuel addiction. The fundamental fact is that as long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy, they will continue to be used. The solution is to begin to put a price on carbon emissions. We the American people should not have to sacrifice our land and water to meet TransCanada’s bottom line. We stand here right now because we are at our lunch counter moment for the twenty-first century. President Obama, do the right thing. We are at a tipping point in America’s history for this environmental movement. If you are going to be risking arrest, you’re going to be lining up on this sidewalk. When I saw the acts of civil disobedience in front of the White House, people saying I will not let this Keystone pipeline be built, I won’t let us be committed to an energy plan based on fossil fuels. You know the people who got arrested in front of the White House, those were not all people who were all self-identified as environmentalists. Those were farmers and ranchers, those were people from indigenous communities, those were business leaders, those were grandparents and moms and dads. We’re really starting to see an expansion of the group of people that are fighting this fight, but we have a lot further to go on that. I’ve been forced to do things I didn’t imagine I’d ever do: stand up on a stage in front of thousand of people, go to jail. We’re probably not going to be able to stop them all one pipeline, one mine at a time. We’re also going to have to play, you know, offense. We think one thing the fossil fuel industry cares about is money so that’s what we’re going to go after. You want to take away our planet and our future? We’re going to try and take away your money. We’re going to try and tarnish your brand. This industry has behaved so recklessly that they should lose their social license, their veneer of respectability. We need these guys to be understood as those outlaws against the laws of physics. We need to take away some of their power and there’s a lot of ways we’re going to do it. One tool, the first tool, is divestment. We’re going to ask or demand that institutions like colleges or churches sell their stock in these companies. The logic could not be simpler: If it’s wrong to wreck the climate, it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage. That argument has worked in a big way exactly once in US history. There has been scattered violent incidence in the Athlone mixed race neighborhood. Authorities returned fire without warning. Organized, vocal and committed students urge the university to divest itself of all investments in South Africa. That’s what happened during the fight against South African Apartheid. At 155 colleges and universities, people convinced their boards of trustees to sell their stock. And when Nelson Mandela got out of prison, one of his first trips was to the US and he didn’t go first to the White House, he went to Berkley to say thank you to the University of California students who had forced the sale of 3 billion dollars worth of Apartheid tainted stock. Here’s what we demand: One, no new investments in fossil fuel companies. Two, a firm pledge over the next five years that they will wind down their current positions. It’s not unreasonable. It’s hard but it’s not unreasonable. I’ll give you a piece of news: The first college in the country to divest all its stock from fossil fuel companies was a college in Maine called Unity College with a 13 million dollar endowment. And none of that 13 million dollars at this point is in fossil fuels any place. Divestment really in one sense was a no brainer for us. When you look at other institutions and their struggle with whether or not to divest, it really boils down to one simple thing: willingness. The mayor in Seattle, he said, I spent the afternoon with my treasurer and we’re figuring out how we’re going to get the city’s funds out of fossil fuel companies. Welcome everyone to our event tonight: Divesting from Fossil Fuels, a conversation with students from Barnard, Columbia, the New School, NYU and Hunter College. Students are asking for divestment. The fact that we have over 250 movements on different campusus around the country means that we have severely challenged that veneer of social respectability. They understand, like the religious denominations and cities that are also doing this, they understand what those numbers mean. It’s inconsistent with the reason these institutions exist for them to continue to invest in something that is dedicated to the destruction of civilization. We’re asking the administration at NYU to divest the university endowment from the fossil fuel industry. We can re-invest in our antiquated infrastructure and make our buildings more energy efficient. People are always looking for this silver bullet, instead its the silver buckshot. How this campaign fits into the greater scheme of things is that this is just one of those ways in which we can take action. These are the kind of solutions that the university should be leading on and they should be saying, we’re going to take the money that’s piled up in our endowment that right now is either doing nothing or doing harm and we’re going to take that money away from the problem makers and give it to the problem solvers. Once you know what’s evil, now if you’re ignorant you get a pass, but once you know what’s evil, you have a moral responsibility to withdraw your energy from it. We are participating in the destruction of our own world even if we don’t want to because the fossil fuel industry is so intertwined in so many aspects in American life. They rely on our cooperation to continue what they’re doing. But what if we said no? The divestment work is a piece of that and what it does is it has the ambition of transforming hundreds, thousands of institutions in the US to be allies rather than adversaries. We, as everyday people, have so much power. If you are a member of a church, you have the ability to work with your fellow congregants to make sure your church is not investing in fossil fuel companies. If you are a student on a college campus, not only do you have the opportunity, I think you have the responsibility to work with your fellow students to make sure that your institution of higher learning is not investing its endowment in the companies that are destroying your future and this planet. We have to send a message, a very clear message, to big oil, big energy that we are going to hold them liable and we are going to divest if they won’t themselves being to change. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, radical in what we are talking about here. All we’re asking for when we talk about climate change is a planet that works the way that it did for the last 10,000 years, a planet that works the way the one we were born onto works. That’s not a radical demand. That’s, if you think about it, a conservative demand. Radicals work at oil companies. If you wake up in the morning to make your $100,000 a day, you’re willing to alter the chemical composition of the atmosphere, then you’re engaged in a more radical act than anyone who ever came before you. And our job is to figure out how to check that radicalism, how to bring it to heel, how to keep it from overwhelming everything good on this planet. And here’s the good news, since I’ve been giving you lots of bad news, here’s the good news: There’s plenty we can do. The long-term solution to climate change is very clear. We need to make the leap to renewable energy and we need to do it quickly, which will be hard. It will be the hardest thing we’ve done since gearing up to fight World War II or something but it’s by no means impossible. When I feel a little overwhelmed with all the things we need to do, I go back and re-read the economic history of World War II. It was just a matter of months, you know, from the US automobile industry producing cars to tanks and planes and ships. It didn’t take decades to restructure the US industrial economy. It didn’t take years. It was done in a matter of months. And if we could do that now then certainly we can restructure the world energy economy over the next decade. And it’s going to require some hard choices. It’s going to require a real change in how we get our energy and how we move around. But the good news is that we have the solutions. You know, we have the ways. We know what we need to do to get to a world where we’re not buring as many fossil fuels. Why would we build a thousand mile pipeline taking almost a million barrels of oil from the most carbon intensive fuel source on the planet when wind energy is a whole lot cheaper and a whole lot cleaner? Why would be drill in the arctic when we know that solar power can meet our energy needs across the country? Why would be frack our countrysides and our watersheds when we know that energy efficiency would save more energy than natural gas can provide? I think that we’re coming to that point now where extreme energy sources are so bad that the questions and these challenges are going to become easier and easier. Our whole economy is going to be dependent on how we respond to this crisis. Competition between countries will be between those who will be advanced in developing the technology and who will be selling it to others or those who stay back and don’t seize the opportunity. We should never underestimate our ingenuity and resolve. If those people that say we cannot do anything about this do not know who we are, do not know what we can do. I think this is the moment where we dig deep and say okay we are ready. The solutions are in front of us and no longer in good conscience can any of us, everyday citizens, elected officials, religious leaders, stand idly by. All the big problems that we have, they all have very local solutions and finding what those solutions are actually results in a whole bunch of different benefits from an environmental standpoint, economic standpoint and social aspect. We are in a situation where we’re going to have an ecologically sustainable economy for everybody or ultimately we won’t have one for anybody. It’s just the smart thing to do to bet on the future and to being to invest in the future. The past has a lobby and it’s a well-paid lobby and it comes right out of big oil and big coal. The future doesn’t have a lobby until now. We have to be as sophisticated as the system we’re trying to change. The legislation that Senator Boxer and I are introducing with the support of the leading environmental organizations actually addresses the crisis. A major focus is a price on carbon and methane emissions. I think a lot of people wondered, maybe still wonder, whether our political system is up to this task. In the largest sense, I don’t know if we can win this fight. There are scientists who think we’ve waited too long to get started. Clearly the power on the other side is enormous. Everyone once in awhile I get discouraged. There was TV reporter who was sort of grilling me who said, Well this just seems impossible. You’re up against the richest industry on earth. This just seems like one of these David and Goliath stories. What chance do you have? And I was thinking, oh, you’re right, this is terrible. But then I thought, and since we’re in church, maybe this is apropos, you know, I thought, I know how that David and Goliath story comes out. David wins against the odds, okay. I don’t know if we’re going to win, but we have a real chance. We know that civil disobedience has helped to achieve great things. It’s helped secure for women the right to vote. It’s helped to end segregation. And so we know that we can’t win on climate change if we continue to dither, if we continue to talk about it but not do anything. We have a moral catastrophe on our hands. We have to do this because our democracy has been subverted, our laws have been subverted. I say it’s criminal. I say that not lightly. When you have no recourse in our democracy, legally or democratically, we not only have the right but we have the duty to break the law to show our discontent. As a nation, we can come together. This is not about Republican or Democrat, it’s about humanity. We’re connected to each other and that organizing has got to be the basis for this kind of larger fight. We’re very glad to be here, some of us are especially glad to be here because we’re glad to be out of jail where we spent much of yesterday in this demonstration about the Keystone pipeline and that’s, of course, of the reasons Americans are descending on this city this week. Thousands of people marched past the White House and urged President Obama to take strong measures to combat climate change. In the second high profile event organized in a week by groups including the Sierra Club and I’m here because I have an obligation to my children, my ancestors, our future generations. If this pipeline goes through, it will be at the cost of human life. When disaster strikes, it’s not going to know race, color or creed. The fossil fuel barons, their lawyers, their spindoctors are losing their grip on our countries psyche. We’re not going to create the clean energy economy when one side beats the other, we’re going to win when we all come together for solutions that work for all of us. And the good news is that in this country, when we finally decided that we’re going to take action on a moral question at the question of who we are we tend to respond, when we respond, explosively. That is the epic struggle of this century and we’re going to meet it. If we don’t we won’t have a twenty-second century. Whenever a great generation stands up, it stands up based on idealism. It stands up based on moral courage and that’s what’s happening now. This is the last minute of the last quarter of the biggest most important game humanity have ever played. The reality of our movement is this: if we fail, the consequences are dire. None of you could be in a more important place than you are right now. Part of this battle against the very deepest problems we’ve ever faced, very few people on earth ever get to say, “I’m doing the most important thing I can be doing any place on the planet at this moment in time” but you guys get to say that because you are on the front lines of this all-important battle. I think we can win this fight. I think we can win it if we act as a community, if we do not do anything that would injure that community but instead build and knit that community together in a way that allows it to take powerful action. We know the end of the story. Unless we rewrite the script, it’s very clear how it ends with a planet that just heats out of control. So that’s our job: to rewrite the story. All I ever wanted to see was a movement of people to stop climate change and now I’ve seen it. Today at the biggest climate rally by far, by far, by far in US history, today I know we’re going to fight the battle, the most faithful battle in human history is finally joined and we will fight it together.

100 thoughts on “Do the Math – The Movie

  1. The point in talking about the KXL is if we want to move beyond oil from anywhere we have to set a precedent. This is that precedent.

  2. We have to mention the human WILL and that the human will is never satisfied in this current culture. It is every re-enforcing element of "never being satisfied" that is one important part in the act of civilizational failure. What can we do here? Schools, culture and the way we know ourselves maybe.

  3. One world, one people. This is our motivation to being involved in saving our Planet from climate change. Blessings

  4. The point is that most americans and groups are in favor of Keystone. Tar sands are no more of a hazard than other il sources.

    People like McKibben need to be ignored like flat earthers

  5. Tar sands are MUCH different than other sources, it's one of the major problems of the pipeline. It is extremely thick and mechanically corrosive and they want to put it in a standard pipeline at pressures that are too high for such a thick goo. We aren't talking about synthetic crude, but raw bitumen.

  6. The pipeline proposal is triple sageguarded and specificly designed.

    McKibben is lying which is why he refuse to go on unbiased news shows

  7. From what I have read on the subject, new sections of the pipeline are better, but there are long stretches where they want to use existing pipelines which weren't designed for the bitumen.

  8. I'm a North American U.S. citizen (politically correct) and I'm not in favor of the pipeline, and guess what, I'm not alone. Whichever country you are from you can't speak for the majority, you can only speak for yourself.

  9. Don't you just show how ignorant most of you are. Fancy any intelligent person stating that we do not need CO2 emissions – if it were not for CO2 the world would end very quickly. For goodness sake learn how we survive through CO2 feeding the plant world that gives us the oxygen we and all other life forms breathe – you make me sick with your ridiculous claims – do some reading and learn before you start all this emotional crap!

  10. You are in the miority and ignorant if you believes frauds like McKibbon. most Americans and Canadians are in favor of Keystone lookat any poll

    Frill Baby Drill and Frack Baby Frack

  11. What source are you getting this from. If it a source from McKibbon it should be ignored like everything else from this crackpot.

  12. to suggest a poll requested of an uneducated population should lead the educated on the matter of life itself tells me you by choice choose ignorance.
    i HATE sharing our air with such as your spirit.

  13. yes it is true we are waking up, will it be timely enough. i doubt it with this pipeline. sadly obama is on film supporting it. he will have no climate legacy if we survive ourselves.

  14. there is no unbiased news.
    and i thank bill mckibben for fighting this fight for those of us who can't so easily get traction.
    i hate when folks as yourself pollute in word a work of generation's.

  15. you foolish one are the flat earther. staying tied to an old diemg think tank that i prayer only takes out those stuck in it.
    the reality is many innocence will be lost with you.
    ps maybe all

  16. "Subtitles in Chinese, French, German, Portuguese or Spanish" … don't work.
    I get only subtitles in English with automatical translation … nearly incomprehensible.

  17. Plants survive just fine at 280 ppm. If we go to 400 or 500 it will just disrupt other things they need such as a climate they are used to and can survive. The video does not say we don't need CO2 we just don't need fossil CO2. Animals breath it out all the time.

  18. You're right, there's always been CO2. And through most of history plants take it up at around the rate volcanoes and animals and so on spit it out. The thing that's different, the game-changer, is the amount we've been adding to this natural level. That's what McKibben and (and the vast majority of active climate scientists) are worried about, not the mere existence of CO2.

  19. We need disruptive technologies online everywhere for global human civilization to survive. But, we need disruptive social movements to implement those technologies now. Otherwise, we'll get social, economic, geopolitical, biosphere, climatic, and environmental disruptions we're not likely to survive.

  20. We already have climate refugees from island nations in the Pacific & Caribbean. What happens when the stream becomes a torrent? What happens when coastal cities have to fund flood control projects costing billions & trillions to keep functioning, or be abandoned? What does humanity do if the oceans acidify and its food chain collapses? How do we radically transform work, agricultural & industrial mfg to make them locally sustainable & reduce in every way fossil fuel dependent transportation?

  21. Most part of Humans will just go on, and they will until everything goes to Hell. Then they ask themselfs , hey how did this happen …its a shame. They will only change when they are feeling the Hurt themselfs.

  22. Well, atleast you're putting in some effort. The problem is that the exact motivation of the movement is the exact opposite of what you said. the point is to maintain environments people can survive off of.

  23. This is mostly good sounding stuff, but I didn't hear anything substantial. Ironically if you want some hard facts about how urgent this problem is there is a great site called Do The Math by Tom Murphy a physicist. He blows away any cosy feeling you may have. Just google it.

    If you want some genuine fear. I recommend the youtube video
    FjxL9kOzjt4 (just copy it into youtube's search field, I suspect they don't allow urls), you will get David Roberts' TEDx talk on it.

  24. S.O.P SAVE OUR PLANET time is running out, perhaps Keshe Foundation may have some answers, to eliminating fossil fuels.

  25. If people are into theories about big oil companies paying researchers to make reports that there is no climate crisis, why is nobody looking into the big companies making big profites on "climate friendly" product? Does it not occur to people that both sides can pay off a bunch of researchers , and make a movie like this? In my opinion(not payed for) there is change in the climate, but no good proof it is man made. They use man made simulators and get man made results on them. Its human to err.

  26. I'm sorry.

    Your incredulity and ignorance of the science does not trump the mathematics undertaken by scientists who understand the physics involved and have concluded that it is man made.

  27. I just follow a differnt group of scientists than you, both sides do science only they dont share the same concern. I respect that you follow your scientists. I only share a differnet opinion on the matter 🙂

  28. We are all responsible for the impact of burning fossil fuels on the planet. This means that future generations can hold us accountable for the damage we have done to our only home: the earth.

  29. Thank you, whene I see a movie like this I'm proud to say that i'm on the transition team and I'm not alone.

  30. I don't understand how divestment will solve the problem. I think it is insufficient. It's not like South Africa, which was nation-state politics. The fossil energy industry doesn't need good PR. It's got us hooked by the gas and oil tanks. If i had $1m and divested it from ExxonMobil, some less ethical capital will flow right in and cancel my divestment. We need a Carbon Tax. Why does McKibben spend so much time on divestment and not a carbon tax?

  31. We all should feel responsible, but we all don't act that way. Some of us profit from the destruction of the planet a lot more than others. We're not a homogenous group, the human species. We have a few exploiters in our midst who hijack the governments as well. Future generations may blame us for doing too little, but they won't be able to sue us to get their planet back. We need to stop the worst people in the present.

  32. I used to believe in those skeptical scientists too and their point about the how negligible the CO2 emission of humans is compare to the nature's. And it is true that " a small shift in the balance between oceans and air would cause a CO2 much more severe rise than anything we could produce. However, the natural cycle adds and removes CO2 to keep a balance; humans add extra CO2 without removing any."

    for more information pls google "skeptical science"

  33. Most scientist are conducting their research adhering to the principles of scientific process, and the vast majority – so much so that it would seem rediculous to think there was still a debate going on, if there wasn't an economic incentive for doing so, all agree on the affects of CO2 on climate change and that it is driven by human activity.

  34. This is evident that out of tens of thousands of pulished papers, and thousands of reserchers working in this area, the same halfdozen contrarians get wheeled out by big oil and fox news again and again to say the opposite – often the motivation of these talking heads is not scientific enquiry. but an ideology of economic liberalism, in lockstep with their paymasters. see the Heartland Foundation and the Marshal Institute for two such biased thinktanks

  35. The idea that the oil companies are somehow the underdog facing down the "global warming and green energy funding industry" juggernaut is also laughable.
    Incidentally, the Koch brothers, major funders of the Heartland Foundation,, recently funded a study to debunk global warming, even this study came back with the conclussion that actually it was occuring

  36. Sage R asked – "We need a Carbon Tax. Why does McKibben spend so much time on divestment and not a carbon tax?"

    Answer – Because Mckibben is trying to raise consciousness of the severity of the problem. There is not enough popular support for a carbon tax. Getting academic and religious institutions to divest makes news and garners additional supporters. When dirty energy politicians start losing elections then there will be a chance for a carbon tax.

  37. Divestment is a great idea, carbon taxes too. Most people still see the use of fossil fuels as a necessary evil though and even rising fuel prices don't deter drivers from driving or planes from flying. Large movements are essential, they speak to politicians, but they also make oil companies work harder to keep people in cars. Take this issue beyond your personal travel habits, talk to family members and friends. Young people, start voting so politicians will start paying attention to you.

  38. I strongly support and a rapid move to non-carbon energy, but IMHO phrases like "a future that humanity cannot survive", "dedicated to the destruction of civilisation" & "take away our planet and our future" are exaggerations because severe climate change will cause enormous human suffering, with the deaths of perhaps billions of people, but it won't make humans extinct or destroy the planet. IMHO such phrases do more harm than good by giving opponents an easy opening to attack

  39. "All I ever wanted to see was a movement of people to stop climate change… and now I've seen it!!"… Ugh, my heart!! Great film. DIVEST!!

  40. Fear of death? The presidents of recent years have always been puppets to the money and power.. Who are you to say that Obama is anymore ignorant then Bush.. Money causes corruption that the president has little control over.. Change doesn't happen through the actions of the president but the actions of the people…

  41. Loved "Deep Economy", and "Eaarth", I cannot wait to read the new book that is coming out in September "Oil and Honey", McKibben is the man!!!! You are a real hero, not those overpaid athletes that do not say squat.

  42. Uniting Church in Australia, NSW/ACT Synod has agreed to divest, can post a web link but look for unitingearthweb, there's a link on the front page.

  43. Those spills are going to be awful. The land and people it will destroy shouldn't be treated as a commodity and cannot be replaced. Build wind and solar energy. Forget these stupid oil sands and fracking. It's gonna be one 'natural' (anthropogenic!) disaster after the next if we don't stop these unsustainable energies. Keep up the good work, Bill!

  44. ..for a second consider…money is invented by man. We kill the planet to make more of the thing the system prints for….free! Not smart…

  45. 100% agree with your comment. Also not to forget that Carbon Tax requires government to get involved to pass new laws. On the other hand, divestment can happen tomorrow morning since its a choice that anyone can make without the need for new laws or government intervention.

    Kick Big Oil where it hurts, in their wallets !!

  46. I believe it's biofuel, as are many buses these days. I don't mean this in an inflammatory way, but here's a great article for those sort of "this is hypocritical" comments. Google "a moral atmosphere orion" and click the first link to read it!

  47. I can agree, but what we're asking for by ending the use of fossil fuel is essentially a higher price for energy. It's not dirty politics or a big bad company that will make renewable & alternative energy more expensive, it's just the fact that hydrocarbons are extremely cheap. It might also be worth arguing that if you can use x gallons of oil, bio-fuel, etc. to spread an important message to make change, it's a worthy use of that energy.

  48. too many slow motion scenes to gloried Bill as a leader, it supposed to be a movement of the people by the people. Bill looks like a candidate for something.
    I cherish the facts numbers though and support the movement

  49. Did anyone do the math? i mean there is no carbon on this planet what it can't absorb, besides it takes a lot of arrogance to think that we can change the world in any significant way. Greenland is not green, just think about that.

    Sidenote: if a prominent person goes against an industry it is certain it works for the same industry.

  50. I love a good argument…. Please share your source of wisdom. Yes this is repetitive for me. I have no problem with being called a troll when it comes to answers. 😉

  51. Pascal… Great name by the way… I was wondering when you think it will be time for the people to make decisions in the open vs votes and dishonesty?

  52. Shells were once currency.. Are shells free. Population and transit. Sometimes somethings artificial seem necessary to keep people working for something. I often find myself stuck on seeding the universe and beyond. 😉 Call me a very hopeful man.
    I hope you do not have words that surpass that. o.O =) I am the layman.

  53. At the point where it takes more than a gallon of oil to get a gallon of oil out of the ground, oil becomes uneconomical. Even bio-fuels have an energy cost. Some just aren't feasible.
    We're not going to get out of this mess until we build and live in ways that consume less energy.

  54. And if there is man Maid Climate change then it is This that causes it:
    Not the Co2.
    That also explains why the water is more acidic they dump stuff like Aluminum and barium worldwide in massive amounts to Geoengineer the globe.

  55. What everybody fails to mention is the incredible effect our banking system has on our Economical behavior!

    We actually have to serve a Black hole (with out need) by Paying the Banksters, for them Creating Money out of thin air,
    that way they suck up all we do, thats why Economy has to grow exponentially because we have a exponentially growing Dept witch we have been told to owe them and have to pay it back with interest upon interest.

    That is why Products have to be designed in a way, that they do not last to long, they call it "planed obsolescence".
    We have been maid to serve this Dept and its not Justified morally, as they claim that we rightfully owe them something they simply print up in unlimited amounts.
    They do that, simply, by our leaders Granting them the Power to do so!

    Now those who don't do the Math, will definitely don't understand the gravity of my comment, as it is Mind bending how much they suck up from us every day.
    Our Economy would look so different if we where to take that Power from them, if we don't we can not even realize any reform as long as we have to feed this ever growing Black hole we will have to grow every year bigger then the Year before ore the whole thing collapses.
    They Literally have the power to by up the whole Globe, with the Power to Create money out of thin air.

    Unless we start to understand: "The emperor is Naked"
    Unless we understand we do not rightfully owe them this money and call it of!
    No Change can be sustained!

    One has to understand what exponential growth means to grasp what i am trying to say here!

    We do not grow that much because we need more stuff, as we don't, we are actually forced to grow that much because of the foundation of our Banking system.
    If that would be changed in to a Real Honest Monetary system we could actually afford to grow much slower ore even stagnate with out any Problem for the Market.
    If we do not change that, no change can truly be maid.
    We live in a Rigged System, period!!

    End the Fed!

  56. Wow, why does the objective satellite measurements of earth temp not support the global climate change models? Why were concentrations of CO2 higher before the industrial revolution? Why do climate change radicals feel the need to manipulate temp measurements to fit their climate change models? Why do climate change radicals overstate atmospheric sensitivity to CO2 levels? Why do these climate change radicals deny the fact that current levels of atmospheric CO2 are historically low and the planet would benefit from higher levels of CO2?

  57. Cut to 2018. CO2 levels at 412 ppm locked in for a thousand years. That’s right. We cannot “get back to 350ppm”.
    Arctic ice about to be gone and a blue ocean event likely this summer. Which means we’re done, extinct like the dodo and previous human cousins of ours.
    All the marches did nothing.

    Time to live like we’re dying and stop believing the Rockefeller funded mouthpiece McFibben.
    Extinction is the next chapter of the Anthropocene.

  58. In Thomas Jefferson’s book, Note on the State of Virginia, he argued for the United States to be founded on an agrarian ideology. In the excerpt we read for class today, Jefferson called for an American economy built on agriculture and to “let the work-shops” remain in Europe” (Jefferson, 18). He recognized the need for some domestic industry but believed the vast land of America could be utilized by farming. Alexander Hamilton’s views contradicted Jefferson’s and his views on manufacturing and industry prevailed; consequently, America has progressed into a state of manufacturing rather than an agrarian state. This trend has become increasingly evident over time. Today, less than 2% of Americans farm. “Even though everyone still eats, taking part in the practice of growing food has less direct influence on people’s lives than at any point in our history (Hagenstein et al 3). Thus, we see the prevailing view of Alexander Hamilton as having profound impacts on the American economy and the global environment.

    Thomas Jefferson adamantly advocated for the founding of this country to be based on agrarian ideals. Agrarianism supports working on land in ways that can last due to its focus on the interconnectedness of life (Freyfogle xix). Agrarians are sustainable and understand that humans need the Earth, land, and animals for our very subsistence. In the agrarian mindset, the health of humans is dependent in the long run on the well being of the larger land community (Freyfogle xix). Clearly, agrarian views dissent greatly from the views of the majority of modern people, especially those living in urban or suburban settings in the United States. Agrarians “believe that those who buy products are implicated morally in their production, just as those who discard waste items are morally involved in their final end… Producers and sellers, too, are morally responsible for their work, and in ways the market cannot absolve or cleanse when their products are sold”. Of course, one cannot live in a place without altering it, however, agrarians are about harmonizing their relationship and effect on nature, not exploiting it. From these readings, I came to be constantly asking myself the same question, “If Thomas Jefferson’s agrarian ideology prevailed, would we still be in the current state of environmental degradation we are currently in?

  59. If you did THE MATH like James Hansen, the BEST way to decarbonize is More RE, BUT MUCH MORE NUCLEAR POWER!

  60. 395PPM? OLD m ovie! 420's now —–SO  , geothermal only, one global government only re environment management, population control (now 2.6 births to 1 death: idiotic right ??!!!), EV's only , laws against consumerism, (new junk plastic based toys , pc's cars etc. , will be illegal to 'buy ad nauseum'. …………. WE CAN DO THIS! COME ON, HUMAN RACE, LET'S GO !!!


  62. Great small film, incredibly informative. Wish they had also done a version that was chopped up in to more easily digestible segments.

  63. Why is Anti-Nuclear? James Hansen, the NASA Scientist, who gave 350 ppm CO2 in atmosphere your name "Time to go Nuclear" 2013 but has advocated for Nuclear Power since the 1980's, why because it is the BEST Solution. does NOT want Nuclear Power 100% RE is a FALSE!! It condemns Earth's poor to Energy poverty and will never reduce emissions to stop climate change == DO THE REAL MATH!! condemns EARTH==Venus

  64. I'd be glad to drink== FUKUSHIMA – Japanese Politician Drinks Radioactive Water! It's just water, people! It contains only 214 Bq/L. Brazil nuts contain 400 Bq/kg.

    MOST PV's are warranted for 20 -25 yrs. A solar panel has two warranties: a performance and equipment guarantee. A solar panel’s performance warranty will typically guarantee 90% production at 10 years and 80% at 25 years. An equipment warranty will typically guarantee 10-12 years without failing.== == pro-solar Granted some PV has 30 years but few. EU == PV law classify PV as TOXIC E-WASTE GERMany == FAIL=RE, has to recycle PV, that will probably burned in Africa releasing TOXIC Pb, Cd, Ar and thin film is more TOXIC. 300X Toxic Waste / watt, compared to ENERGY DENSE NUCLEAR POWER!

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