Greenbelt 2016: Bright Now meets Bill McKibben


In our second blog post from Greenbelt 2016, Operation Noah volunteer Jade Ashley Till  writes about the day Bright Now met Bill McKibben.

Before arriving at Greenbelt 2016, I was told that as an Operation Noah volunteer promoting the Bright Now campaign I would have the opportunity to meet Bill McKibben. Having followed the inspirational work of 350.org, I was extremely excited to meet such a motivational figure.

Leading up to Greenbelt, I read as much about Bill McKibben as I possibly could. I read about the divestment campaign and its urgent need to be implemented. Bright Now are encouraging the Church of England to disinvest from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy. Volunteering with Operation Noah at Greenbelt has given me the opportunity to be part of the movement.

Saturday morning at Greenbelt finally rolled around. There was a fantastic buzz in the atmosphere, as the first full day began.

I will always remember today as the day I met Bill McKibben.

Getting to see Bill McKibben was a feat in itself. The heavens opened up, turning the festivals ground into a giant slip and slide, creating an avenue of mud between ourselves and Bill McKibben.

The rain hardly let up during the day. Since arriving yesterday, we have had scorching sun and torrential rain. At the end of August, a time of year traditionally reserved for summer, in the middle of the day we experienced thunder storms, lightning, and heavy rain! Operation Noah lived up to its biblical name today. During the heavy downpours of rain and the thunder and lightning storms, we volunteers remained upbeat and passionate.

We carefully and quickly made our way from one side of the festival to another. Arriving at the Bill McKibben talk, I was overjoyed to see a crowd eagerly awaiting to hear him speak. His talk was about climate change and the importance of divestment from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Bill McKibben opened his talk by saying: “My basic role on the planet is just to [tell the reality] and then lead people to a hopeful place. What a generation ago was a theoretical problem for the future, we are now fully in the middle of.”

This was the journey that Bill McKibben took us on throughout his talk. He told us that July 2016 was the hottest month on our planet since the beginning of civilisation. He explained the importance of the poles and saving the ice, and the increased levels of toxicity in the oceans. Then he spoke about divestment.

I could hardly believe my ears when Bill McKibben openly endorsed Operation Noah and the Bright Now campaign! I literally cheered and held up our sign. The campaign had reached his ears.

Bill McKibben answered the questions that were in the minds of so many: “Why divest now? Why not engage?” He made it simple.

“Our problem is that the deadline in this situation is set by physics. If we keep going as we are now then physics wins. At this moment we have to take a stand. Our job is to hold down the fossil fuel industry. There’s nothing really radical about what we’re asking for.”

We need to divest from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energies such as solar and wind. Bill McKibben spoke sincerely when he said: “We need to be taking advantage of the resources the good Lord has given us. Wind turbines are beautiful; it’s the wind made visible.”

Bill McKibben spoke on three occasions throughout the Saturday, and I attended them all. At each event he endorsed Operation Noah and the Bright Now campaign. We had a group photograph with him at the end of his second appearance. Bill McKibben went one step further and actually signed our campaign petition!

Join Bill McKibben and sign the petition to encourage churches to divest from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy.

Operation Noah volunteers in "Bright Now" T-shirts with Bill McKibben.
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