Energy. Environment. Economy.

Environmentalist Author Bill McKibben to Speak at Shale Gas Protest

Nancie Battaglia

Author, and environmental activist, Bill McKibben.

For the second year in a row, the Marcellus Shale gas drilling industry will gather in Philadelphia this month at the Pennsylvania Convention Center under the banner of Shale Gas Insight 2012. And the fractivists plan to be right outside, stirring things up with Shale Gas Outrage in Center City Philadelphia. As a testament to how things have changed over the past year, it won’t just be the industry folks who have high profile speakers. This year, author Bill McKibben, who is best known for writing the first popularly accessible book on climate change, will speak to the outraged unconventioneers.  McKibben’s 1989 book, “The End of Nature,” was first serialized in the New Yorker, and his subsequent articles and books have won him high praise. Recently, he became a vocal critic against the Keystone XL pipeline proposal. And Rolling Stone just published his piece “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math,” which will make you think twice about purchasing shore front property.

“Meteorologists reported that this spring was the warmest ever recorded for our nation – in fact, it crushed the old record by so much that it represented the “largest temperature departure from average of any season on record.” The same week, Saudi authorities reported that it had rained in Mecca despite a temperature of 109 degrees, the hottest downpour in the planet’s history.”

Iris Bloom, an organizer of Shale Gas Outrage and founder of Protecting Our Waters, says she’s excited to have McKibben on board, especially given what she read about the advance of global warming in Rolling Stone.

Todd Vachon / WHYY/Newsworks

Natural gas drilling protestors rally outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, September, 2011.

“There is no ‘meantime,’ says Bloom. “You hear the industry say ‘yeah, global warming is coming, but in the meantime, we’re fracking.’ What we’re saying is it’s time to cut emissions now.”

Of course, industry representatives, and some scientists would disagree, saying that natural gas burns cleaner than coal, and therefore is helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But on the other side of that argument are another group of scientists and environmentalists who say that the entire gas drilling process creates harmful emissions that may be worse, if not the same, as coal.

On the Insight side, speakers include Gov. Tom Corbett, and former Nightline anchorman, Ted Koppel will be moderating a panel. Koppel now works as a news analyst for several networks, including NPR.



  • Iris Marie Bloom

    Glad to see more attention on climate, shale gas impacts, and all things fracking. But to be clear, the serious peer-reviewed scientists are saying that even best case, even after new EPA regulations are in place; even if best practices are used and those new (delayed) regulations were to be tightly enforced, still “the greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas will remain larger than that of coal, when viewed over an integrated 20-year time period,” because of methane emissions. That quote is from this statement:

    To refer to shale gas “as if” there is no extraction process, no compressor stations, no 1,600 or so truck trips per frack, per well, no methane leaks from flowback, no flaring, no pipeline leaks, is to simply deny reality. References to “cleaner-burning” natural gas, while technically true, are actually misleading industry propaganda because they leave out the realities which impact climate. We must look at life-cycle impacts, period. And we must look at them in the 20-year time frame which matters.

    To better understand the science, check this link:–%20National%20Climate%20Assessment.pdf

    I stole the phrase “there is no meantime” from a friend who is an engineer, Cornell professor, and author of several textbooks on energy systems. There is simply no better way to sum up the reality that climate change is already here, and continuing to delay in the transition to a sustainable society is no longer an option.

    So y’all come out to Shale Gas Outrage in Philly, and listen to Bill… and Josh, and Sandra…and Bonnie Rait’s guitarist, Freebo, and more! 12 noon. September 20th.

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