Bill McKibben

Author & Environmental Activist

Bill McKibben

Of all the challenges the planet faces, none is as large as its fast-heating climate—and no one has worked longer or harder than Bill McKibben both to document and fight that ever-growing crisis. The author of the first book about global warming—1989’s The End of Nature—McKibben went on to found 350.org, which has become the biggest grassroots climate campaign in the world.

Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist who in 2014 was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the “alternative Nobel.” His book The End of Nature (approaching 30 years in print) is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has been translated into 24 languages. TIME Magazine has called him “perhaps the planet’s best green journalist,” and he’s lectured and organized on every continent, including Antarctica. His forthcoming book—Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?—offers a piercing look not only at our environmental challenges, but at the existential questions that come with new technologies like artificial intelligence.​

“Probably America’s most important environmentalist.”
The Boston Globe

In his heartfelt, hopeful talks, McKibben offers realistic approaches to saving our planet, as individuals, certainly, but also as thoughtful members of a mobilized group. When it comes to building a movement, we should consider “being a little bit less of an individual,” he says.  Together, we can build “the right kind of pressure” in order to make change, like convincing college campuses to divest from fossil fuels. He also discusses the environmental possibilities of technology, like the use of solar panels across the African continent. Audiences will be inspired and uplifted by McKibben’s stories of people all over the world engaged in making the planet a more environmentally just, sustainable place. These talks “give people a sense that even in their deep worry—they are not alone,” he says.

McKibben’s writing has earned him numerous awards, including membership in the Literature section of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the John Steinbeck prize. The author of fifteen books, in recent years he’s written authoritative pieces on renewable energy in Africa for The New Yorker and on the fossil fuel industry for Rolling Stone.  The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, McKibben was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize, and holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities. Foreign Policy named him to their inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers. In 2014, biologists honored him by naming a new species of woodland gnat—Megophthalmidia mckibbeni—in his honor.

View: America and the Climate Crisis