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B.C. strategically placed to slow down global warming/climate change, says author McKibben

“You guys are in an interesting place geographically,” Bill McKibben, a world renowned author and ecology campaigner, told a gathering of local NGO and community activists on April 8.

McKibben addressed a group of 30 activists in the BC Teachers' Federation offices, saying a proposed new cross-province pipeline will, if successfully completed, open the door for massive exports of oil from the tar sands through B.C. waters to Asia and south to the United State. And the province already plays a similar “gateway” role in export of coal to off-shore ports.

McKibben, author of a dozen books and a widely published journalist, is the founder of the “” campaign, which describes itself as “a global movement to solve the climate crisis.” The group organizes annual worldwide events calling on policy makers to reduce the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere from the current 390 parts per million down to 350, a change that will require a massive reduction in use of climate changing fossil fuels. CNN called one of these annual events “the most widespread day of political action in the planet's history." Last year, activity took place in every country on the planet except North Korea.

In addition to the April 8 meeting, McKibben delivered a lecture at the Vancouver Institute at UBC on April 9, as well as an address at a “stop coal” rally sponsored by the Stop Coal Campaign.

“We need to leave carbon in the ground,” McKibben says, citing what he sees as overwhelming evidence that the use of fossil fuels is driving a climate change catastrophe that threatens to change the nature of the planet. 2010, he notes was the warmest year on record, and sea ice is at an all time minimum. If not checked by dramatic shifts from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources, he says, climate change will drown island nations and heavily populated lowlands, reduce world food production and create both climate and social chaos.

“We have to force the pace of change,” he told the activists.

Organizers in the room clearly agreed with McKibben’s called for increased activism. Some of those present are sponsoring a day of “mass direct action” against the controversial South Fraser Freeway for Earth Day, April 22, while others, members of Youth for Climate Justice Now, are organizing a Vancouver parade on April 22 in hopes of “recapture the radical roots of Earth Day,” according to Wilderness Committee campaigner Ben West.

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