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Bill McKibben quotes (showing 1-30 of 44)

“TV makes it so easy to postpone living for another half hour.”
Bill McKibben, The Age of Missing Information
“There is a tendency at every important but difficult crossroad to pretend that it's not really there.”
Bill McKibben, The End of Nature
“Here is a statistic that does matter: Three quarters of Americans believe the Bible teaches that “God helps those who help themselves.” That is, three out of four Americans believe that this uber-American idea, a notion at the core of our current individualist politics and culture, which was in fact uttered by Ben Franklin, actually appears in Holy Scripture. The thing is, not only is Franklin's wisdom not biblical; it's counter-biblical. Few ideas could be further from the gospel message, with its radical summons to love of neighbor. On this essential matter, most Americans—most American Christians—are simply wrong, as if 75 percent of American scientists believed that Newton proved gravity causes apples to fly up.”
Bill McKibben
“we use TV as we use tranquilizers- to even things out, to blot out unpleasantness, to dilute confusion, distress, unhappiness, loneliness.”
Bill McKibben, The Age of Missing Information
“what sets wilderness apart in the modern day is not that it's dangerous (it's almost certainly safer than any town or road) or that it's solitary (you can, so they say, be alone in a crowded room) or full of exotic animals (there are more at the zoo). it's that five miles out in the woods you can't buy anything.”
Bill McKibben, The Age of Missing Information
“In fact, corporations are the infants of our society - they know very little except how to grow (though they're very good at that), and they howl when you set limits. Socializing them is the work of politics. It's about time we took it up again.”
Bill McKibben, The Bill McKibben Reader: Pieces from an Active Life
“But tolerance by itself can be a cover for moral laziness.”
Bill McKibben, The Age of Missing Information
“I think people who don't know the woods very well sometimes imagine it as a kind of undifferentiated mass of greenery, an endless continuation of the wall of trees they see lining the road. And I think they wonder how it could hold anyone's interest for very long, being all so much the same. But in truth I have a list of a hundred places in my own town I haven't been yet. Quaking bogs to walk on; ponds I've never seen in the fall (I've seen them in the summer - but that's a different pond). That list gets longer every year, the more I learn, and doubtless it will grow until the day I die. So many glades; so little time.”
Bill McKibben, Wandering Home: A Long Walk Across America's Most Hopeful Landscape: Vermont's Champlain Valley and New York's Adirondacks
“what you do every day is what forms your mind and precious few of us can or would spend most days outdoors.”
Bill McKibben, The Age of Missing Information
“everyone knows, at some level, that the sharp line between "good weather" and "bad weather" is a fiction, that we need rain as surely as we need sun.”
Bill McKibben, The Age of Missing Information
“TV was like a third parent- a source of ideas and information and impressions. and not such a bad parent- always with time to spare, always eager to please, often funny.”
Bill McKibben, The Age of Missing Information
“When you are in a hole, stop digging!”
Bill McKibben
“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.”
Bill McKibben, The Age of Missing Information
“the television culture celebrates incompetence.”
Bill McKibben, The Age of Missing Information
“There are times when I can almost feel myself simply being.”
Bill McKibben, The Bill McKibben Reader: Pieces from an Active Life
“...only in relatively recent times have people decided that "because I want to" is sufficient reason for annoying others.”
Bill McKibben, Wandering Home: A Long Walk Across America's Most Hopeful Landscape: Vermont's Champlain Valley and New York's Adirondacks
“money supplants skill; it's possession allows us to become happily stupid.”
Bill McKibben, The Age of Missing Information
“I am still a consumer; the consumer world was the world I emerged into, whose air I breathed for a very long time, and its assumptions still dominate my psyche—but maybe a little less each year....There are times when I can feel the spell breaking in my mind….There are times when I can almost feel myself simply being.”
Bill McKibben, The Bill McKibben Reader: Pieces from an Active Life
“we have developed a series of emotional thermostats as well, by far the most potent of which is television itself. instead of really experiencing the highs and lows, pains and joys, that make up a life, many of us use TV just as we use central heating- to flatten our variations, to maintain a constant "optimal" temperature.”
Bill McKibben, The Age of Missing Information
“increasingly we live in a world filled with the equivalents of deadly garage-door openers, unnecessary items that offer us mild and insipid comfort at the price of a dangerous and uncomfortable planet, and at the price of any real relationship to the physical world. if you live in a suburban home and commute to a parking garage somewhere, that ten seconds of opening the garage door(manually) might be nearly the only rain you ever feel.”
Bill McKibben, The Age of Missing Information
“Very few people on earth ever get to say: "I am doing, right now, the most important thing I could possibly be doing." If you'll join this fight that's what you'll get to say.”
Bill McKibben
“Management" of anything as complicated as a woods requires more humility than comes easily to our species, at least in its American incarnation.”
Bill McKibben, Wandering Home: A Long Walk Across America's Most Hopeful Landscape: Vermont's Champlain Valley and New York's Adirondacks
“It's a quiet revolution begun by ordinary people with the stuff of our daily lives.”
Bill McKibben
“if there is any one subject on which everyone seems to agree, any one point of doctrine to which every political sect subscribes, it's that "economic growth" is the highest goal, our ultimate goal as a country. and not only as a country-as states, as communities, as corporations, as individuals.”
Bill McKibben, The Age of Missing Information
“We speak often, and sentimentally, of being 'enchanted' by the natural world. But what if it's the other way around? What if we are enchanted, literally, by the human world we live in? That seems entirely more likely - that the consumer world amounts to a kind of lulling spell, chanted tunefully and eternally by the TV, the billboard, the suburb. A spell that convinces us that the things we want most from the world are comfort, convenience, security. A spell that by now we sing to each other. A spell that, should it start to weaken, we try to strengthen with medication, with consumption, with noise. A slight frantic enchantment, one that has to get louder all the time to block out the troubling question constantly forming in the back of our minds: 'Is this all there is?”
Bill McKibben, When the Wild Comes Leaping Up: Personal Encounters with Nature
tags: nature
“electronic media have become an environment of their own- to the list of neighborhood and region and continent and planet we must now add television as a place where we live. and the problem is not that it exists- the problem is that it supplants. it's simplicity makes complexity hard to fathom.”
Bill McKibben, The Age of Missing Information
“the mountain and the television weren't so much in different time zones as in different dimensions.”
Bill McKibben, The Age of Missing Information
“The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position. Admittedly,”
Bill McKibben, The Global Warming Reader: A Century of Writing about Climate Change
“I write these words in May of 2011, the week after a huge outbreak of tornadoes killed hundreds across the American South; it was the second recent wave of twisters of unprecedented size and intensity. In Texas, a drought worse than the Dust Bowl has set huge parts of the state ablaze. Meanwhile, the Army Corps of Engineers is moving explosives into place to blow up a levee along the Mississippi River, swollen by the the third “100-year-flood” in the last twenty years—though as the director of the Federal Emergency Management Administration noted at the end of 2010, “the term ‘100-year event’ really lost its meaning this year.” That’s because 2010 was the warmest year recorded, a year when 19 nations set new all-time high temperature records. The Arctic melted apace; Russia suffered a heat wave so epic that the Kremlin stopped all grain exports to the rest of the world; and nations from Australia to Pakistan suffered flooding so astonishing that by year’s end the world’s biggest insurance company, Munich Re, issued this statement: “The only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change. The view that weather extremes are more frequent and intense due to global warming coincides with the current state of scientific knowledge.” And that’s not the bad news. The bad news is that on April 6, the U.S. House of Representatives was presented with the following resolution: “Congress accepts the scientific findings of the Environmental Protection Agency that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for public health and welfare.” The final vote on the resolution? 184 in favor, 240 against. When some future Gibbon limns the decline and fall of our particular civilization, this may be one of the moments he cites.”
Bill McKibben, The Global Warming Reader: A Century of Writing about Climate Change
“the coalition of Latin American and African governments making the case for climate debt actually stresses difference, zeroing in on the cruel contrast between those who caused the climate crisis (the developed world) and those who are suffering its worst effects (the developing world). Justin Lin, chief economist at the World Bank, puts the equation bluntly: “About seventy-five to eighty percent” of the damages caused by global warming “will be suffered by developing countries, although they only contribute about one-third of green-house gases.”
Bill McKibben, The Global Warming Reader: A Century of Writing about Climate Change

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