Published: May 13, 2015
Here’s some irony. A top environmentalist has labeled President Barack Obama a “climate denier,” not because of his views on global warming, but because the president allowed an oil company to search for Arctic oil.
“Climate denier” is usually a label reserved for Republicans who are skeptical of man-made global warming, but environmentalist Bill McKibben has now given that label to President Obama.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 13, 2015
McKibben took to The New York Times opinion pages to lambast the Obama administration’s approval of Royal Dutch Shell’s plan to explore for oil in the Arctic. McKibben called Obama’s decision “extreme” and “irresponsible.”
“Obama administration’s decision to give Shell Oil the goa head to drill in the Arctic shows why we may never win the fight against climate change,” McKibben wrote in his oped. “Even in this most extreme circumstance, no one seems able to stand up to the power of the fossil fuel industry. No one ever says no.”
Environmentalists have heavily opposed Shell’s plans to search for oil reserves in the Arctic seas, but McKibben is the first to go so far as to label Obama a “climate denier.” The vocal environmental activist says Obama is a “denier” because he denies “the meaning of the science.”
“This is not climate denial of the Republican sort, where people simply pretend the science isn’t real,” McKibben added. “This is climate denial of the status quo sort, where people accept the science, and indeed make long speeches about the immorality of passing on a ruined world to our children.”
“They just deny the meaning of the science, which is that we must keep carbon in the ground,” wrote McKibben, who founded the environmental group 350.org and teaches environmental studies at Middlebury College.
McKibben, who gained notoriety opposing the Keystone XL pipeline, praised Obama administration regulations to cut emissions from coal-fired power plants, but said the president needed to keep more fossil fuels in the ground to keep global warming to 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
“If we’re to have any chance of meeting even Mr. Obama’s weak goal of holding temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius, we have to leave most carbon underground,” McKibben wrote.
“And yet Mr. Obama… has opened huge swaths of the Powder River basin to new coal mining. He’s still studying whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, though the country’s leading climate scientists have all told him it would be a disaster,” McKibben added.