Bill McKibben: From NIMBY to NOOPA

November 15, 2011

Bill Mckibben in Grist – writing on the Keystone decision.

Everyone from Tim DeChristopher speaking from jail to Robert Redford speaking from YouTubemade it clear that this is a more united opposition than the oil companies are used to dealing with. An opposition that takes strength from small victories, and which should be starting to worry the fossil-fuel industry just a little bit.

So I think we need a new name. Faced with projects like tar-sands oil which carry the possibility of deeply damaging the earth’s support systems, we should take to calling ourselves NOOPs: Not On Our Planet.

And if I weren’t a Methodist Sunday School teacher, I fear I’d be tempted to add an A to the end. If you’re an oil company executive willing to keep altering the chemical composition of the earth’s atmosphere, or a coal baron who thinks it’s okay to remove mountaintops, or a gas tycoon eager to pollute both water and air in search of some fracked riches — NOOPA! Find yourself a spaceship.

There is no Planet B.

25 Responses to “Bill McKibben: From NIMBY to NOOPA”


  1. […] However, unless we leave a large proportion of them in the ground (just as we decided to do with asbestos), we will be history – as may well be our ‘Goldilocks’ planet. This is the […]


  2. Martin – cut the pontificating – if we leave the oil in the ground right now millions will suffer and die. When we’ve left asbestos, some industry had to find a replacement. There’s no analogy.

    When there’ll be an oil replacement I’ll be all for it. But at this very moment halting keystone XL will do zilch to make an oil replacement materialize. If no pipe will be built, the oil will travel on trucks at some point – adding to the emissions, ironically.

    • Martin_Lack Says:

      …if we leave the oil in the ground right now millions will suffer and die…” – Warning: Reality inversion!

      We already have alternatives. Arguably, we had them 20 or 30 years ago. What our leaders have lacked is the moral courage to say “No” to the fossil fuel lobby; and make the appropriate investment decisions. Now, however, having sqandered so much valuable time, if we do not leave fossil fules in the ground, 100s of millions of people will suffer and die as a consequence of climate change.

      Existing suffering, food shortages, starvation and death are not the consequences of climate change mitigation – they are merely evidence of over-population. And before you rebut that statement, the human carrying capacity of the planet depends on the average rate of consumption of its resources. Therefore, if everyone was to be raised to the living standards of the USA, the planet could only support a vastly reduced population. Whereas, if everyone was to be reduced subsistence living, it could clearly support many more billions than we have now. The reality of the situation is somewhere in between. However, given that poor people have a legitimate right to aspire to a more comfortable existence, the time is long overdue that people in developed countries curbed their excessive consumption and profligate waste (CO2 included).

      Thus anthropogenic global warming is the most obvious evidence we have that we have exceeded the Earth’s current ecological carrying capacity for Homo sapiens.


  3. I was actually thinking of the OAPs not surviving a fuelless winter?

    • Martin_Lack Says:

      Well, in that case, all I can say is – Yes, investment in green technlogy will now push prices higher but this need not have been the case if we had invested for the long-term a long time ago. Unfortuntately, the fossil fuel lobby is not well-known for taking a long-term interest in anything other than maximising their profits. None of this, however, invalidates the Tragedy of the Commons or Limits to Growth points that I have made. Refusing to be the first to take a stand and do what is right can anly have one result; and it will not be good for the humans, non-humans, or the environment.

      Your only answer to all of this is, of course, to deny that the problem is real; to claim that the scale of the problem is over-stated; and/or to complain that the cost of fixing the problem is too great. Unfortunately, we already have all the palaeoclimatic data and scientific understanding to be very certain that if we wait until every last “sceptic” is silenced by incontravertable evidence of ongoing accelerating change, it may be too late (not just too expensive) to stop it.

      • greenman3610 Says:

        higher energy prices are not optional in the globalizing economy, in fact the only option to keep a lid on prices is to go renewable. No matter how you slice coal, oil, or nuclear, those options either have huge barriers initially (nuclear) or steady increasing costs over time (fossil – no matter what kind of ‘drill baby drill” approach you use)


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