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Bill McKibben's "Do the Math" Campaign Takes Aim at Fossil Fuels Industry

Bill McKibben's "Do the Math" Campaign Takes Aim at Fossil Fuels Industry from The UpTake. Like this? Watch the latest episode of The UpTake on Blip! http://blip.tv/the-uptake/watch

[caption id="attachment_59492" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Click on Photo to Learn How Bill McKibben is Encouraging College Students to Fight Global Climate Change"]a href="http://www.theuptake.org/?p=59475"img class="size-medium wp-image-59492" title="BillMcKibben" src="http://www.theuptake.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/BillMcKibben-300x168..." alt="" width="300" height="168" //a[/caption]

"I think we should be calling hurricanes after oil companies," Bill McKibben joked during an interview with The UpTake last Friday while on the Minneapolis leg of his nationwide a href="http://math.350.org""Do the Math" tour/a. "I think instead of naming them after perfectly innocent young women ? everybody named Sandy in New York is gonna have to be the butt of bad jokes now for 15 years. Instead, it should have been apos;Hurricane Exxonapos;. And that way, when CNN was covering it, theyapos;d report apos;Exxon is coming ashore on the coast of New Jersey at this hour and dealing death and destruction in its pathapos;!"

The "Do the Math" tour is beginning to impact the national conversation. When the 350.org architect returned home to Vermont on Tuesday, he opened his computer to see a front-page story in the emNew York Times/em headlined a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/05/business/energy-environment/to-fight-c...""To Stop Climate Change, Students Aim at College Portfolios"/a. The story echoed what McKibben and his traveling band of environmental activists witnessed on their 21-city, 27-day tour across America ? that citizens, and college students in particular, are prepared not only to recognize climate change as an existential threat but to take the fight to fossil fuel companies that drive global warming ? even as politicians and corporations drag their feet on the most important environmental cause of our time.

McKibben is encouraging colleges and universities to financially divest from fossil fuel companies ? much as academic institutions were encouraged to divest from supporting the South African government under apartheid in the 1980s. More than 100 campuses now have active divestment movements, and two schools, Unity College in Maine and Hampshire College in Massachusetts, have already agreed to dump their stocks in fossil fuels. Others, such as Harvard ? which enjoys the largest endowment in the country, at $31 billion, according to the a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/05/business/energy-environment/to-fight-c..."emTimes/em story/a ? have resisted that measure, though the Ivy League schoolapos;s student body recently voted to ask the school to do so.

"We are going after the fossil fuel industry," McKibben told a rally at the University of Minnesota on Nov. 30. "This is the next great moral challenge of our time. We need the same tools to bring pressure on the corporations.!--more--

The a href="http://math.350.org""Do the Math"/a rallies across the country, which a href="http://www.theuptake.org/2012/11/08/mckibben-sees-opening-to-press-obama..."began in Seattle/a the day after the presidential election, aimed to embolden college students and inspire divestment movements, but they also provided forum for a sobering lesson in mathematics. Human consumption of fossil fuels has already raised the the planetapos;s temperature by 1 degree Celsius, explained McKibben ? enough that, if Neil Armstrong stood on the moon and looked back at Earth today, heapos;d see half as much ice on the polar ice caps as he did in 1969. The worldapos;s industrialized nations reached a non-binding agreement during the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit to limit the rise of global temperatures to 2 degrees, Celsius ? twice the amount that has nearly melted the poles. That translates to 565 billion tons of carbon released into the atmosphere, according to climate scientists. But a team of financial analysts in the United Kingdom determined that the worldapos;s fossil fuel companies and fossil-fuel producing states already have five times that amount in their reserves ? ready to burn.

"Iapos;ve traveled in the Arctic and the Polar regions for 50 years," explained Minnesota native, explorer and environmental activist Will Steger, who joined McKibben in Minneapolis. "Every region that Iapos;ve crossed has either changed or has disappeared. Last summer two-thirds of the sea ice on the Arctic Ocean disintegrated. The last one-third is hanging on by a thread. Last summer, for the first time, we had a thaw right to the top of the Greenland ice cap."

Also joining McKibben in Minneapo

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