The Current

Youth would be better leaders in fight against climate change, says veteran environmentalist

In the late 1980s, Bill McKibben was a young environmental reporter who was writing about the greenhouse effect. Climate change was a new idea back then, but today it's everywhere. McKibben joined us to discuss that 30-year trajectory, and why decades of climate change discussion hasn't turned into decisive action.

'If the world was run by people 40 and under ... we'd be making huge progress'

U.S. environmentalist and author Bill McKibben first wrote on climate change in 1989, in which he warned of increasing temperatures caused by greenhouse gases. (Chad Pawson/CBC)

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Climate change would be a global priority if young people were in charge, according to an environmentalist and author who has been writing about the topic since the late 1980s. 

"If the world was run by people 40 and under, this is the thing we'd be working on all the time, and we'd be making huge progress," said Bill McKibben.

McKibben is co-founder and senior adviser to, an international campaign targeting climate change. He has worked on the issue for decades and is encouraged that young people today are so engaged on the topic. 

Events like recent wildfires in California have placed climate change firmly in the headlines and the global conversation. (Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

"The problem is people of my generation who refuse to let change happen, who insist on keeping the same technologies, the same power and patterns of wealth and settlement and industry that we've had in their lifetimes," he said.

"One understands why people want things not to change, but things are going to change on a completely different scale if we don't make human changes first."

McKibben talked with The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti about why decades of climate change discussion hasn't turned into decisive action. Listen to their full conversation at the top of this page.

Produced by The Current's John Chipman


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