CEC proudly announces environmental activist and author Bill McKibben as our 2015 Environmental Hero Award recipient, granted as part of CEC’s annual Santa Barbara Earth Day festival being held Saturday, April 18 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, April 19 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Alameda Park. McKibben, who exemplifies the dramatic impact that individuals can make when they take a stand, accepted the award privately at his home in Vermont earlier this month.
“Less than a decade ago, when CEC launched its Fossil Free by ‘33 campaign, a broad grassroots movements around climate change was virtually non-existent,” commented Sigrid Wright, Assistant Director of CEC and the festival’s director. “McKibben and his organization changed the game, taking the awareness that had been sparked by An Inconvenient Truth and giving people concrete ways to act — individually and collectively. He built a global climate movement that allowed regional organizations like ours to be more effective.”
Journalist, novelist, and professor, McKibben is one of the most influential figures in climate change activism. His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages. Foreign Policy has named him to their inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers, and he writes frequently for a wide variety of publications around the world, including the New York Review of Books, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone.
In 2007, McKibben challenged Congress to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent. As public awareness and momentum grew, McKibben founded 350.org, a non-governmental organization with the goal of promoting organized grassroots activism that called for lowering the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere to safe levels — generally agreed to be 350 parts per million (ppm). CO2 levels today hover around 400 ppm, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
In recent years, 350.org has spearheaded a number of grassroots campaigns, including Fossil Free, which encourages universities and colleges, religious organizations, retirement funds, and other institutions to get rid of investments that are tied to fossil fuels. Modeled after similar divestment efforts during the anti-apartheid movement, this campaign provides an avenue for students, congregations and others to pressure their institutions to financially break from an industry that they feel morally opposed to.
In addition to honoring McKibben’s leadership with the Environmental Hero Award, CEC is actively shaping the 2015 Earth Day festival to engage the public on climate change, in preparation for the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris later this year.
“Climate change is the defining issue of our time” said Wright. “This year’s Stand Up for Climate theme draws on CEC’s 45-year history of gathering local community together to take action and make a global impact.”
Other activities at the festival include:
● March for Climate– The first organized youth marchin Santa Barbara Earth Day’s historyon Sunday, April 19 at 12:30 p.m.Location: March begins at Kids Stage, ends at Main Stage at 1:00 p.m.
● Pledge for Climate – Enter a #SBEarthDay contest by committing to Drive Less, Choose Electric, Go Solar, Ditch Plastic, or Eat Local Location: Pledge zone near the Community Environmental Council booth.
● Art for Climate– Larger-than-life community activism art piece, engineered by local artist Matt McAvene. Location: near the gazebo in the center of the park.
● Drive It for Climate – Head to Ride & Driveand take a spin to see how it feels to choose electric. When: 11:00 a.m. 6:00 p.m. Saturday, 11:00 am to 5:00 p.m. Sunday.
● Climb It for Climate – Summit climate change issues at UCSB’s 26-foott-all Adventure Tower. Cost: $3 kids; $5 teens/adults. Location: Sports & Rec Zone.
● Eat for Climate– Second annual pop up Earth Day Eat Local Dinner: From Sea and Field to Plate organized by Cultivate Events on Saturday, April 18 from 79:30 p.m.Tickets: $100 each. Location: Between Gazebo and Main Stage. Purchase in advance by contacting Kathi King at (805) 9630583 x108.
CEC thanks Bill McKibben for the unyielding stand he has taken against climate change. As this year’s Environmental Hero, he joins previous award recipients like science educator Bill Nye, actress Daryl Hannah, director James Cameron, and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk.
Join CEC on Saturday, April 18 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, April 19 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Alameda Park. For more information about festival activities, stage schedules, and other event information, visit the Santa Barbara Earth Day website at SBEarthday.org and visit our Earth Day Facebook page at facebook.com/SBEarthday.