At the local community college where two decades ago I went and heard the late James Randi speak, Bill McKibben came and gave a talk that was open to the public. One of the organizers was Peter Sinclair whose blog I sometimes comment on and where I found out about this event. First a few words about Sinclair. His blog is called Climate Denial Crock of the Week. The content and tone of his posts are exactly what you would expect given that title. He does lots of post — probably as many as the most active bloggers at WUWT. He has a smattering of regular commenters. I argue with a few of them, mostly about nuclear. I try to be on my best behavior, but once in a while I can’t help myself and go off on a rant trashing Mark Jacobson. He’s been very good about letting me comment there.

His mother, Mary Sinclair, was an activist who worked against a nuclear power plant that was being built in nearby Midland Michigan in the late seventies. The project was eventually cancelled. He has a good detailed post about her that includes a 60 Minutes profile. Peter Sinclair is not anti-nuclear, but definitely prefers renewables.

I haven’t been to this or any college campus for well over a decade, so I had no idea what to expect. I certainly didn’t want to miss this chance to hear McKibben speak and maybe introduce myself to him and Peter Sinclair. I was also curious to see what the atmosphere and reactions would be. I was also wary that I might be in hostile territory in todays polarized political environment. I also had another reason to be wary. I was actually banned from this campus about twenty years ago. This had to do with me raiding beverage containers there. I am after all a canman (my online moniker before I started using my real name). A janitor (they like to raid beverage containers too) accused me of making a mess. This was not true, but this being a college campus full of college students, there were plenty of messes that could be pointed to. When I asked the nice policewoman who handed me the notice who I could talk to about still using their impressive library (this was before almost everything was available online) she exclaimed “if you show up here again, you’re going to be arrested!”

When I arrived at the campus and parked in a lot near the lecture hall, I saw two of these big yellow plywood “350” signs that used to sprout up every spring around the time of the 2016 election. There were about a half dozen in my town. There was a pretty good size crowd lining up to get in. Right off the bat I noticed Peter Sinclair talking with people and doing event organizing type stuff. He was much taller than I expected and looked very fit and spry. I was wondering if I’d get another chance to introduce myself to him, but I decided I wanted to be as unobtrusive as possible.

I heard a couple of people talking about registration, but all I had to do was write my name on a placard with a zip code. They also gave everyone a small sealed package containing a climate stick. The climate stick is a multi-colored visual aid that can be worn as a pendant that was created by Bay City environmentalist, Pat Rice. Its various colored sections represent components of CO2 in the atmosphere — a green natural level at the bottom, a black fossil fuel band that we’ve added, a yellow band that we’re adding and a red danger band on top. Earlier that day, I ran into another canman in the bottle room of a local grocery store — we’re something of a subculture. I mentioned to him that I was going to this event and my previous troubles on this campus and he said, “I’ll bet Pat Rice will be there.” It’s very rare that anybody I run into knows much about the climate issue much less any of the significant figures. He said he wasn’t much interested or even sympathetic to the subject. He just happened to know the guy.

I opted to watch from the balcony which was almost all students, many doing stuff on their laptops. This is after all a school. After McKibben finished his lecture at the podium, many of them did not stay for the onstage discussion, which included Pat Rice. It was pretty much a typical Bill McKibben speech. He’s a good speaker. You’d have to be to create a huge organization like he’s done. He’s also a talented writer. I did an Amazon review of one of his earlier books. He focused mostly on politics. He’s just started an organization of older people called Third Act. He also had a representative from a group or younger voters called NextGen America. Most of the big applause lines were for political goals I adamantly oppose such as shutting down a Michigan propane pipeline. I actually found a video of the presentation:

At the end I walked up towards the stage, but he was surrounded by fans taking selfies and such. As he walked out there were a lot of people talking with him. As I was following I saw Peter Sinclair. I went up to him and said I commented on his blog. I talked to him for a couple minutes. He was very nice and cordial. I joked that he was big and burly and I was afraid he might throw me out. He gave me a card and said he had stuff to attend to which he clearly did. I then grabbed a large cookie from the food table and headed out a bit disappointed to not meet Bill McKibben in person. But as I walked out the front entrance, there he was talking to a couple people who were just leaving. I pulled out a card that has my Klein bottle avatar and some URLs on it and handed it to him and said I was a skeptic blogger. He thanked me and I told him I’d written a post about Doyne Farmer. He replied, “Who?” I said, “the roulette guy” and he said, “oh yeah”. I left it at that.


  1. It’s good to hear about some positive and polite interaction between alarmists and sceptics (well, it’s a shame you didn’t get the chance to have a discussion, but at least nobody called you an evil denier or threw you out). It’s an important topic – they think it’s the most important issue facing humankind, and I think the policy response to it is certainly one of the most important issues facing humankind – so we really should be able to talk about it politely and intelligently. Thanks for linking to the video of the event. I’ll watch it later.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A good article would have stated up to ten claims that McKibben made (direct quotes) and then refuted, or agreed with, each one. This article was mainly a word salad and a video. Poorly written and a total waste of my time.

    In less than one minute I found this McKibben quote using Google:

    “Climate change is the single biggest thing that humans have ever done on this planet. The one thing that needs to be bigger is our movement to stop it. The logic of divestment couldn’t be simpler: if it’s wrong to wreck the climate, it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.”

    The above quote is factually wrong, data free, climate alarmism. The climate has not been wrecked. We currently have the BEST climate for humans and animals since the Holocene Climate Optimum ended 5,000 years ago. Today is the best climate for C3 photosynthesis plants in millions of years. Anyone who listens to McKibben for more than a few minutes needs their head examined.


  3. Cliff, I’m just doing a report, not a detailed profile. The main thing I had to report was that he appears to be concentrating on politics. He didn’t have much to say about energy. I was very surprised that he couldn’t remember who Doyne Farmer was. Farmer is featured very prominently in his recent New Yorker article. I suspect he’s trying to avoid the subject of energy because of the growing support for nuclear energy among the climate concerned.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I read and recommend 20 climate science and energy articles every morning for 365 days a year. I know the difference between a good article and a word salad.
    Richard Greene
    Bingham Farms, Michigan USA
    aka The Cliff Claven of Finance


  5. Richard/Clavenoff, we have a free comment policy on Cliscep, with a single general rule: “don’t be obnoxious.”

    Your first comment made no sense. The article was a waste of your time – but it was a 4 minute read. You have something you desperately needed that 4 minutes for? You wanted quotes by McKibben. They exist elsewhere on the internet, as you discovered with a “less than one minute” Google search. Mike’s article was about something else. It was about not hiding in a sceptical silo, about seeing our opponents as real people with honestly-held views even if we vehemently disagree with them, and perhaps about showing them the other side of the coin, that we are not all mere trolls but reasonable humans just as they are.

    Rest assured, we at Cliscep will redouble our efforts to produce a story worthy of one day featuring in one of your top twenties.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Richard Greene, I’ve been accused of a lot of things online, but never of writing a word salad. Can you find a lettuce leaf of a sentence that doesn’t convey some information about the event or people involved? I probably could’ve written a bit more about McKibben, but I found the video and was happy not to have to do a recap. I’ve pretty much heard all his stuff before and now find it rather tedious. He can convey his ideas a lot better than I can. To summarize, he’s concentrating on politics.


  7. All climate alarmists concentrate on politics because there is no science to predict a coming global warming catastrophe. There are no climate data for the future. There has never been a manmade climate crisis in the past. Therefore, the prediction of a coming climate crisis MUST be a data free prediction. The prediction started with the 1979 Charney Report, guessing the long term effect of CO2 (ECS), so has been wrong for over 43 years so far.

    McKibben might be a nice, friendly guy, but what he claims about the climate is what is important. And why an author thinks his climate claims are wrong, or at least unsupported by data, could make a good article.

    To Kit:
    I have recommended MANY articles here on my blog.
    Just not this one. That’s why I was disappointed.
    Few people in the US would consider “word salad”
    to be an obnoxious criticism of an article

    There are plenty of friendly leftists that we know personally. Is that an important subject for an article? I don’t think so. Meanwhile, as a group, most leftists vote for politicians who desire to micro-manage our lives. That is a VERY important subject for an article.


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