Kenan hosts environmentalist Bill McKibben, who talks ethics and climate change

Norman Wirzba, left, and Jedediah Purdy, center, joined Bill McKibben to discuss humanity’s role in climate change.

Hundreds gathered at Goodson Chapel Sept. 27 as the Kenan Institute for Ethics hosted renowned author, educator and environmentalist Bill McKibben for the Institute’s first biannual Luce Lecture as part of its Facing the Anthropocene project.

Faculty, staff, students and local residents came to hear from McKibben, who has written about the environment for nearly 30 years. In the Luce Lecture “Climate Crisis/Climate Hope,” he spoke of the power and impact of industries that contribute to rising global temperatures and how the “work of citizenship” is becoming a moral and ethical imperative to address a rapidly changing climate.

“We are on a path, if not exactly to Hell, but to someplace with a very similar temperature,” he said to the crowd.

Showing imagery of natural disasters and protestors trying to raise awareness of issues facing the environment, McKibben said influencing change is truly a global effort, noting his work with 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized 20,000 rallies around the world.

“When we win, we win on behalf of the future and on behalf of people all over the world – especially the poorest and most vulnerable who are feeling every day the impact of what we have done,” he said, later adding, “This is the first thing that impacts everybody, all over the place.”

During his time on campus, McKibben also met with students, faculty and staff to discuss environmental activism and what the future of such movements could and should be to combat repercussions of climate change. McKibben’s visit was part of the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ focus on ethics and environmental policy, including the new Facing the Anthropocene project, led by Norman Wirzba, a Senior Fellow at Kenan and Professor of Theology, Ecology, and Agrarian Studies, and Jedediah Purdy, the Robinson O. Everett Professor of Law.