Bill McKibben is founder of the climate change organization 350.org.Photo by Nancy Battaglia

Bill McKibben is founder of the climate change organization 350.org. Photo by Nancy Battaglia

By Laurelle Walsh

Rarely, but every so often, does a bona fide rock star make an appearance in our fair valley.

On Sunday (May 18), Bill McKibben, a certifiable rock star of the environmental movement, will take the stage at the Winthrop Barn and share the story of his 25 years on the front lines of global climate change.

“The Education of an Unlikely Activist in the Climate Change Movement” is presented by the Methow Conservancy. The free talk begins at 7 p.m.; Barn doors will open at 6 p.m.

“We’re very excited to welcome him to our community,” said Jason Paulsen, executive director at the Methow Conservancy. “It is a testament to [McKibben’s] character that he would be willing to take the time to travel to the Methow Valley to share Sunday evening with us while he is in the Pacific Northwest.”

McKibben, said to be among the first to warn of the dangers of global warming, will describe the science of climate change and discuss the work of 350.org, the organization he co-founded that facilitates grassroots climate activism around the globe.

350.org drew its name from climate scientist James Hansen’s contention that atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels above 350 parts per million is unsafe — a level we have now surpassed. One year ago this month, in a “climate milestone,” according to National Geographic, scientists atop Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano measured atmospheric CO2 above 400 parts per million for the first time in recorded history, and it is predicted to keep rising.

Some of 350.org’s featured campaigns include the “Cowboy Indian Alliance,” which marched on Washington, D.C., last month to protest the Keystone XL pipeline; the “Fossil Free” campaign, which is pressuring governments and educational and religious institutions to divest from fossil fuels; and “Global Power Shift,” a world-wide coalition of youth climate activists.

In 2012, following his Rolling Stone article, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math,” McKibben and other prominent environmental thinkers “took on the fossil-fuel industry,” in a 21-city roadshow called “Do the Math,” laying the case for divesting from the world’s petroleum giants.

In 2013 McKibben received the Gandhi Peace Award, and was named one of Foreign Policy magazine’s 100 most important global thinkers. The Boston Globe called McKibben “probably America’s most important environmentalist,” and Time magazine’s Bryan Walsh called him “the world’s best green journalist.”

In his first book, The End of Nature, published in 1989, McKibben posited that the survival of the globe is dependent on a fundamental shift in the way we relate to nature. He wrote, “There is a tendency at every important but difficult crossroad to pretend that it’s not really there.”

McKibben has spent his subsequent career trying to convince the world that global warming is there, that “we’re losing the fight, badly and quickly — losing it because, most of all, we remain in denial about the peril that human civilization is in.”

Trail’s End Bookstore will offer a selection of McKibben’s books for sale at Sunday’s event, and the author will be available to sign books.

Twisp River Pub will have drinks and finger foods available for purchase.

A donation to The Cove food bank’s spring food drive is requested. Donations may include non-perishable food, or bath, body, kitchen and laundry products.

For more information contact the Methow Conservancy at 996-2870 or go to methowconservancy.org.