By Rekha Leonard
SILVER SPRING, Md. — Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) invited acclaimed environmentalist, author and educator Bill McKibben to be his guest for the annual State of the Union Address that will take place on Tuesday.
McKibben helped found 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement. 350.org organized 20,000 global rallies, spearheaded the resistance to the Keystone Pipeline and launched the fast-growing fossil fuel divestment movement.
McKibben was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize, and in 2014 he was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, also known as the “alternative nobel.”
His 1989 book, The End of Nature, is widely regarded as the first book about the dangers of climate change to be accessible to the general public.
“I have been galvanized about climate change ever since I read Bill’s first book, The End of Nature,” said Raskin. “He has been a friend of mine since college, but that book totally shocked me. I’ve understood that climate change is not an issue, but the whole context in which we need to decide every other issue, whether it is infrastructure, trade policy, transportation, or agriculture.”
Raskin has long been an avid supporter of tough legislation against climate change. In Congress, he is working to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to slow and halt climate change while investing in alternative clean energy technologies like solar and wind power.
“We are on the precipice of a new Green Industrial Revolution,” said Raskin. “Let’s not mess it up. It’s almost certainly our last chance. We must show the vigor and creativity of the people who invented the New Deal.”
It is common practice for members of Congress to choose guests who highlight key policy issues they plan to focus on, so Raskin’s decision to invite McKibben is likely an indicator that he will be more determined than ever on implementing harsh legislative action against climate change in the coming year.