Fossil fuel is very seductive stuff. [John Maynard] Keynes once said that, as far as he could tell, the average standard of living from the beginning of human history to the middle of the eighteenth century had perhaps doubled. Not much had changed, and then we found coal and gas and oil and everything changed. We're reaping the result of that, both ecologically and socially.
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APABill McKibben Quotes. (n.d.). Jar of Quotes. Retrieved , from JarofQuotes.com Web site: https://www.jarofquotes.com/view.php?id=fossil-fuel-is-seductive-stuff-john-maynard-keynes-once-said-that-as-far-as-he-could-tell-average-standard-living-from-beginning-human-history-to-bill-mckibben
ChicagoBill McKibben Quotes. Jar of Quotes, 2020. https://www.jarofquotes.com/view.php?id=fossil-fuel-is-seductive-stuff-john-maynard-keynes-once-said-that-as-far-as-he-could-tell-average-standard-living-from-beginning-human-history-to-bill-mckibben, accessed .
MLA"Bill McKibben Quotes." Jar of Quotes, 2020. . https://www.jarofquotes.com/view.php?id=fossil-fuel-is-seductive-stuff-john-maynard-keynes-once-said-that-as-far-as-he-could-tell-average-standard-living-from-beginning-human-history-to-bill-mckibben
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Often when I'm on TV, they'll ask what are the three most important things for people to do. I know they want me to say that people should change their light bulbs. I say the number one thing is to organize politically; number two, do some political organizing; number three, get together with your neighbors and organize; and then if you have energy left over from all of that, change the light bulb.
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At the moment, the 4 percent of us in this country produce a quarter of the world's carbon dioxide - once you look at maps of rising sea levels and spreading mosquitoes, you realize that we've probably never figured out a way to hate our neighbors around the world much more effectively.
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The models that have been constructed agree that when, as has been predicted, the level of carbon dioxide or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases doubles from pre-Industrial Revolution concentrations, the global average temperature will increase, and that the increase will be 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius or 3 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit... In Dallas, for instance, a doubled level of carbon dioxide and other gases like methane, would increase the number of days a year with temperatures above 100 degrees from 19 to 78 each year.
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All the things that we've done as a species have had a limited scope. We're talking about melting the ice caps, raising the level of the seas dramatically, changing the distribution of every other species on Earth, perhaps wiping out one-third or half of them. The changes at work are geologic in scale. The level of change required to deal with it is enormous, too. It will require change in every country. It will require a degree of global cooperation that we haven't seen before.
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In the United States, cheap fossil fuel has eroded communities. We're the first people with no real practical need for each other. Everything comes from a great distance through anonymous and invisible transactions. We've taken that to be a virtue, but it's as much a curse. Americans are not very satisfied with their lives, and the loss of community is part of that.
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TV, and the culture it anchors, masks and drowns out the subtle and vital information contact with the real world once provided. There are lessons, enormous lessons, lessons that may be crucial to the planet's persistence as a green and diverse place and also to the happiness of it's inhabitants-that nature teaches and TV can't.
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We, all of us in the First World, have participated in something of a binge, a half century of unbelievable prosperity and ease. We may have had some intuition that it was a binge and the earth couldn't support it, but aside from the easy things (biodegradable detergent, slightly smaller cars) we didn't do much. We didn't turn our lives around to prevent it. Our sadness is almost an aesthetic response - appropriate because we have marred a great, mad, profligate work of art, taken a hammer to the most perfectly proportioned of sculptures.
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Where people aren't as deeply reliant on fossil fuel as in the United States, it's far easier for them to imagine change on this scale. When you go to Europe, they're much more ready. They use half the amount of energy per capita that we use. They can imagine using less than that. They see the benefits. They're ready to go.
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Human beings any one of us, and our species as a whole are not all-important, not at the center of the world. That is the one essential piece of information, the one great secret, offered by any encounter with the woods or the mountains or the ocean or any wilderness or chunk of nature or patch of night sky.
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We believe that we live in the 'age of information,' that there has been an information 'explosion,' an information 'revolution.' While in a certain narrow sense this is the case, in many important ways just the opposite is true. We also live at a moment of deep ignorance, when vital knowledge that humans have always possessed about who we are and where we live seems beyond our reach. An Unenlightenment. An age of missing information,
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