Bill McKibben is the founder of, the Schumann ­Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury, and the author, most recently, of Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist. (March 2016)


The Koch Brothers’ New Brand

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right

by Jane Mayer
Jane Mayer’s remarkable new book makes it abundantly clear that the Kochs, and the closely connected group of billionaires they’ve helped assemble, have distorted American politics in devastating ways, impairing the chances that we’ll effectively respond to climate change, reducing voting rights in many states, paralyzing Congress, and radically ratcheting up inequality.

The Pope and the Planet

Pope Francis visiting typhoon survivors in Tacloban, the Philippines, January 2015

Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home

an encyclical letter by Pope Francis
The pope’s encyclical on climate change is entirely different from what the media reports might lead one to believe. Instead of a narrow and focused contribution to the climate debate, it turns out to be nothing less than a sweeping, radical, and highly persuasive critique of how we inhabit this planet—an ecological critique, yes, but also a moral, social, economic, and spiritual commentary.

Climate: Will We Lose the Endgame?

An Adélie penguin on an iceberg in the Ross Sea; photograph by John Weller from his book The Last Ocean: Antarctica’s Ross Sea Project, Saving the Most Pristine Ecosystem on Earth. It includes a foreword by Carl Safina and is published by Rizzoli.

Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of a Mysterious Continent

by Gabrielle Walker

What We Know: The Reality, Risks and Response to Climate Change

a report by the Climate Science Panel of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
We may be entering the high-stakes endgame on climate change. The pieces—technological and perhaps political—are finally in place for rapid, powerful action to shift us off of fossil fuel. Unfortunately, the players may well decide instead to simply move pawns back and forth for another couple of decades, which would be fatal.

What Would Thoreau Do?

Ice on Walden Pond; from Richard Primack’s Walden Warming

Walden Warming: Climate Change Comes to Thoreau’s Woods

by Richard B. Primack
Henry James once called Concord, Massachusetts, “the biggest little place in America,” and for its role in both political and literary history the title is probably forever secure. Concord was the site of the second battle of the American Revolution (and the first victory for the colonials), and a few …


Climate Change: A Warning from Islam

Ziglab Lake, Jordan, 2009

The real effect of documents like the recent Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change, or Pope Francis’s encyclical, is less immediate policy shifts than a change in the emotional climate. It’s not necessarily that we take what the pope says as Gospel, or decide that because our university sold its fossil fuel stocks we will do likewise; it’s that these things normalize action, moving it from the category of “something that activists want” to “something obvious.” That’s the phase we’re reaching right now in the climate fight.

Pope Francis: The Cry of the Earth

Pope Francis at the Vatican, September 1, 2014

Laudato Si’, finally released this morning in Rome, is a remarkable 183-page document, incredibly rich—it’s not dense, but it is studded with aphorisms and insights. This marks the first time that a person of great authority in our global culture has fully recognized the scale and depth of our crisis, and the consequent necessary rethinking of what it means to be human.

The Methane Beneath Our Feet

A temperature gauge at a gas powered electricity plant, Las Vegas, Nevada

Insouciant New Yorkers—here is another pending disaster to shrug off with characteristic brio! There is a huge, ongoing gas leak beneath your very feet. A team of natural gas experts recently commissioned to survey the New York system has found vastly elevated levels of methane in locations all over Manhattan, a clear indication that Con Ed’s 4,320-mile network of pipes, dating back to the 1800s, is corroded, full of holes, and spewing methane into the atmosphere. The main danger here is to planetary, not personal, safety: though it has received relatively little attention, methane, the primary component of natural gas, is second only to carbon dioxide on the list of greenhouse gases that are inducing climate change.

A Grim Warning from Science

Flooded streets under the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn, New York, October 29, 2012

Days before Sandy came ashore we not only knew approximately where it would go, but that its barometric pressure would drop below previous records and hence that its gushing surge would set new marks. For science, it was a bravura performance. It should shame at least a little those people who argue against the computer modeling of climate change on the grounds that “they can’t even tell the weather three days ahead of time—how can they predict the climate?” They can tell the future too. And unless we get off fossil fuel with great speed, no serious climate scientist believes that the sea will rise less than a meter this century. Think about what that means—as one researcher put it this week, it means that any average storm will become an insidious threat.