‘World on Fire’: LMU’s discussion on climate change with Bill McKibben

During a discussion on climate change, environmental activist Bill McKibben and LMU professor and First Lady Carol Costello raised important environmental issues affecting the LMU community.

This week, LMU’s Global Policy Institute and Professor Carol Costello, LMU’s First Lady, connected with environmental activist Bill McKibben to hold a virtual conversation on climate change and environmental justice. McKibben is an environmentalist, journalist and author who has spent decades spreading information and creating dialogue on the global issue of climate change.

Before the event, Carol Costello, the co-organizer and moderator of this virtual discussion, explained her perspective, expressing that she wants to discuss climate change and environmental justice during this time because it is important for members of LMU to remain educated on how to be active and vocal on these issues.

Costello's ambition and desire for holding this event is motivated by her fear for the planet. “We are experiencing global warming in real time. I am afraid for the earth," she said. "Bill is one of the most important activist environmentalists in the world – I yearn to learn more on how we can save the earth.”

During the discussion, Bill McKibben provided insights to help LMU students understand the alarming reality of climate change. When asked to give his perspective on those who don’t believe in climate change, McKibben responded by saying, “all around the world things are burning,” referring to the excessive forest fires that have been present throughout California.

McKibben encouraged LMU students to take action against climate change by explaining that these fires are just one of the many initial repercussions of climate change that will only become worse over time.

Most notably, McKibben responded to a question about what an LMU student’s role and activism can look like in the fight against climate change during the discussion. He answered by saying that “the important thing is for individuals to become a little bit less individual.”

McKibben believes that it is ideal for college students to join large organizations that are working to combat the fossil fuel industry on a global scale, rather than solving the issue “one Tesla at a time, one vegan dinner at a time.” This piece of advice teaches college students that environmental activism goes beyond daily efforts to be more sustainable.

After discussing the dangers that our political leaders are putting us in, Bill McKibben brought up another important point: student activists need to target groups outside of the U.S. government in order to make effective change globally.

Although it is important to speak out against political leaders’ compliance with the fossil fuel industry, McKibben explains that we must also target Wall Street, big banks and asset managers that are heavily involved with these fossil fuel companies in order to take this harmful industry down. Understanding the economic connections to the fossil fuel industry is essential for LMU students who are planning to take action against climate change.

Expressing his most important piece of advice, McKibben calls on students to “keep a little pressure on LMU to do the right thing with its investments,” touching upon LMU's lack of divestment from fossil fuel companies which has been an important issue that has been gaining attention amongst LMU students for multiple years now.

This virtual discussion with environmentalist Bill McKibben brought out various questions and answers that can hopefully inspire and remind students at LMU to remain active and vocal on the issues of climate change to fight for a cleaner and safer future.

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