Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Riptonite in TIME

Ripton resident Bill McKibben receives a glowing profile from TIME magazine.

Bill McKibben misses winter. the 51-year-old environmental writer turned unlikely activist is marching through a frosting of snow outside his Vermont home, dodging the jabbing branches of spruce trees. McKibben has lived in and around the Adirondack and Green mountains since leaving New York City some two decades ago, and he remembers winters sunk “with a cold so deep, the trees would snap at night.” But not this year. Scientists are already predicting that this winter could be the warmest in recorded history in the Northeastern U.S. In its place–thanks in part to man-made climate change–is something different and likely more dangerous. As McKibben walks through the woods, on land originally owned by the poet Robert Frost, he recalls the damage inflicted on Vermont by Tropical Storm Irene, one of 12 record-breaking billion-dollar disasters that hit the U.S. last year. “The climate has already warmed 1 [Celsius], and if this is what 1 produces, more warming is going to be impossible to deal with,” he says. “We can’t let this happen. We won’t let this happen.”


Charlie Hohn said...

While I am very concerned about climate change and am a supporter of what McKibben is doing, I would urge caution in attributing this year's warm weather directly to climate change. As anyone who lived in Vermont can tell you, last winter was a wild one - with record snowfalls and temperatures down to -20. While warm winters like this one may be linked to climate change, wild winters like last year's may also be - there is evidence that lack of Arctic sea ice can accentuate jet stream fluctuations and force cold air out of Canada into the US (last year was also much warmer than average in northern Canada, contrast with this year with Alaska very cold and snowy).

The bottom line? We can't explain the complexity of climate change to everyone in full detail, but simplifying will get us in trouble too. Otherwise, people will throw McKibben's words right back in his face when inevitably we get another wildly snowy winter like last year.

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