The most important alarm ever heard.

The heading says it all.

In fact the heading was taken from an email that came in from Bill McKibben’s yesterday.  But before reproducing that email in full, let me take you back to the 6th January this year when I published a piece simply called Keystone XL pipeline.  This is how that Post opened up,

Yesterday, I had published a lecture given in Melbourne by Britain’s eminent Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees.  Lord Rees concluded his lecture with the call for us to take better care of our own planet. He, like many others, recognises the unique place in history that we occupy. For the first time a single species is capable of exerting profound changes on the Earth’s natural and physical environments.

Over and over again, scientists are reporting the rise in climate temperature of Planet Earth and the implications thereof if we do not wakeup soon to changing our ways.  The Keystone pipeline is a huge potential mistake!

Bill McKibben of

Not easy to focus on a single sentence from Lord Rees but this one’s pretty direct, “For the first time a single species is capable of exerting profound changes on the Earth’s natural and physical environments.”

God only knows what money, power and influence is going on behind the scenes because no leader in their right mind ought to be supporting any major investment in the continuation of carbon-based energy.  So it was with deep dismay that around 2pm US Mountain Time yesterday afternoon the following email arrived in my in-box.  (Feel free to republish this Post, indeed please do so!)

Dear friends,

Earlier today, Barack Obama wrapped up his first trip to Oklahoma as President. He arrived just after a week of floods, capping off a winter that never came, which followed the hottest and driest summer Oklahoma had seen in thousands of years, perhaps ever.

But he wasn’t in Oklahoma to talk about these climate disasters. He was there to laud his administration’s fast-tracking of the southern leg of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. In his speech today, President Obama didn’t connect the dots between fossil fuel extraction, climate change, and the extreme weather that has reshaped so much of the American landscape this past year.

It’s a painful reminder that sometimes we must be leaders ourselves, before we can expect our elected officials to follow. It’s clearly up to us to connect the dots.

Today is launching a global day of action to call attention to these and other climate disasters, here on the same day as the President’s annoucement. Across the planet now we see ever more flooding, ever more drought, ever more storms. People are dying, communities are being wrecked — the impacts we’re already witnessing from climate change are unlike anything we have seen before.

If we’re going to do these communities justice, we need to connect the dots between these disasters and show how all of them are linked to fossil fuels. We’re setting aside May 5th for a global day of action to do just that: Connect the Dots between extreme weather and climate change.

Anyone and everyone can participate in this day. Many of us do not live in Oklahoma, the Philippines, or Ethiopia — places deeply affected by climate impacts. For those of us not in directly-impacted communities, there are countless ways to stand in solidarity with those on the front-lines of the climate crisis: some people will be giving presentations in their communities about how to connect the dots. Others will do projects to demonstrate what sorts of climate impacts we can expect if the crisis is left unchecked. And here in the US, it’s particularly important that we make the connections clear to our elected officials — beginning with President Obama.

However you choose to participate, your voice is needed in this fight — and you can sign up to host a local event here:

(For more general info about the day, check out our new website here: has done giant global days of action before (over the last three years we’ve helped coordinate over 15,000 events in 188 countries) and they’re always beautiful moments when our movement stands together. This year we’ll use that same captivating tactic to draw attention to the struggles of our friends around the world  — the communities already feeling the harsh impacts of climate change.

These will also be beautiful events, we’re sure. But they will also have an edge. It’s right that we get a little angry at those forces causing this problem. The fossil fuel industry is at fault, and we have to make that clear. Our crew at will work hard to connect all these dots — literally — and weave them together to create a potent call to action, and we will channel that call directly to the people who need to hear it most.

May 5 is coming soon; we need to work rapidly. Because climate change is bearing down on us, and we simply can’t wait. The world needs to understand what’s happening, and you’re the people who can tell them.

Please join us — we need you to send the most important alarm humanity has ever heard.


–Bill McKibben for the whole team

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7 thoughts on “The most important alarm ever heard.

  1. “…no leader in their right mind ought to be supporting any major investment in the continuation of carbon-based energy…” This is why James Hansen has concluded that our leaders are lying to themselves not just to us. However, I think the central problem is that they have uncritically accepted the fossil fuel lobby’s propaganda that we can have it both ways – the lie known as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).

    Unfortunately, CCS will treat the symptoms rather than deal with the cause of the problem; it is in effect a business-led abdication of our moral responsibility to leave this planet as we found it.


    1. Martin, Perhaps it’s deeper than that? Did you see the comment left by Patrice Ayme on yesterday’s Post? let me reproduce it here.


      I seem to agree with all what was said above. Yet a point: Before governance, what is needed is cognizance. And it does not matter what the world thinks, as long as the USA and the EU are at each others’ throats.

      World democracy is an illusion. There are UN Security Council permanent members, they pack up more than 95% of the world military capability, and another name for that is global peace.

      It is certainly better than global war.

      The big problem right now is that a loose alliance of world plutocrats (and I include Chinese and Russian leaders in that) led by their main headquarters in Wall Street is fighting the better angels of the European leadership. So democracy which is pretty much reduced to North America, Europe and a few colonies thereof, is split.

      The USA keeps believing in it’s exploitative mentality, thanks to colossal propaganda from the fossil fuel, health, military-industrial, banking and academic plutocracies. The EU itself is under American plutocratic assault (OK, it’s their fault, but…).

      Before governance, what is needed is cognizance, that means that the history, and even economic history, and the philosophy thereof, of the last 2,000 years needs to be dissected. Professor Diamond did a bit of that, much more needs to be done, hence my labors on:


      As I said in response, a very perceptive summary. P.


      1. Yes I did see it. Patrice’s point appeared to be that the demand for true democracy must come from the people (i.e. the establishment of good governance pre-supposes dissatisfaction with its current absence). If so, I agree because, what we currently have falls a very long way short of the ideal of government of the people by the people for the people…


    2. Martin is correct: CCS is a lie. It exists in four places or so, in exceptional circumstances. CO2 is reinjected in geological layers is those cases, mainly to maintain the pressure in the fossil fuel fields currently exploited. Most CO2 generating plants are not located so that this could be duplicated.

      Another possibility would be to use the CO2 for feeding bio-fuel algae, but that’s has been tried only on a very small scale. Moreover most CO2 producing plants are not located next to the sun drenched areas.


  2. Thanks Paul!
    I could not say it better than you. (Ha ha ha.) For all that’s worth, Krugman made his main editorial on oil, and I went a few layers below in today’s essay of mine.

    Obama is just following the money. Anyway, this is democracy. We the People, are supposed to rule, thus to lead, and Obama is supposed to be our (public) servant.

    It is high time that the left, the progressive, the true conservatives who want to conserve the biosphere, and the righteous who are fed up with money conspiracies, get together and resist. Otherwise this process of abominable Obamination, will keep on going, where even Bush did not dare…

    To address the point at hand, tar sands are an abomination. They have a very bad EROI. So they pollute very severely.


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