Do The Math Tour in Chicago Review – Bill McKibben Reaches Out

Beginning in Seattle on November 7, 2012 with only a few stops left as it traversed the country Bill McKibben brought his “Do the Math Tour” to the Atheneum Theatre in Chicago. Leaving Chicago it will be on to Madison, Minneapolis, Omaha, Boulder, and finally, on December 3, Salt Lake City.


Chicago Area Peace Action who arranged for Chicago being part of the tour, thanks Chicago for its climate-conscious urgency in filling the thousand-seat house for Chicago's engagement of "Do the Math" on November 28th featuring Bill McKibben and Rev. Lennox Yearwood.


The crowd of one thousand tincluded many students from colleges in the area, Northwestern, UIC, University of Chicago, DePaul, and more, even as far away as Indiana.  Community groups concerned with environmental issues such as Go Green Wilmette, the Evanston Environmental Association, a large group from Environmental Defenders of McHenry County, and various groups from Chicago enthusiastically greeted Bill McKibben who is highly regarded in environmental circles.  Many of these groups have participated in activities in past years and were anxious learn more about what McKibben had to say about climate change.


His new presentation is part TED-talk, and part old-time revival meeting.  He shares some very important numbers. It’s simple math: we can burn less than 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide and stay below 2°C of warming — anything more than that risks catastrophe for life on earth. The only problem?  Fossil fuel corporations now have 2,795 gigatons in their reserves, five times the safe amount. And they’re planning to burn it all — unless we rise up to stop them.


Taking on the fossil fuel industry is a natural evolution for, the global climate campaign that McKibben founded with six Middlebury College students in 2008. In 2009, the group organized more than 5,200 rallies in 183 that CNN called “the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.” In 2011, helped lead a successful campaign to push President Obama to deny the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, getting 1,253 people arrested at the White House in August and then circling the property with 15,000 people in November.


McKibben’s arguments are compelling, even more so because Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath is very much with us as is the drought of the past summer, which was so hot at one point, farmers could not plant.  His presentation included video messages from Naomi Klein, Kumi Naidoo, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Josh Fox, Rev. Lennox Yearwood and others. As he travels the country in a sustainable bus, On the tour McKibben has been joined by a rotating cast of committed individuals. The audience watched interactive video, and was presented with thought-provoking ideas. By the time the audience left, they were energized and equipped with the tools, strategies, and resources needed to take on the fossil fuel industry.

Bill McKibben and have been on the road with the goal of building the movement that will change the terrifying math of the climate crisis.  Since the tour ends in a few days, it will be interesting to observe the extent to which Bill McKibben and can influence critical action and change by bringing groups together.

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Photos: B. Keer


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