Earth Day, President Trump, and the Future of Climate Activism

With guests Bill McKibben and Denis Hayes.

It’s an Earth Day extravaganza! Earth Day Co-Founder Denis Hayes and climate change icon Bill McKibben visit America Adapts. 

This episode is coming out on the same day that President Trump rescinded the climate change rules established under President Obama. Take action by listening to Bill and Denis share their experiences, as they offer advice on what to do next.

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Segment One: Denis Hayes

Denis Hayes is the cofounder of the original Earth Day and CEO of the Bullitt Foundation. We discussed:

  • HISTORY OF EARTH DAY: Denis describes the original Earth Day in 1970 and the political environment at the time. Denis describes the bi-partisan nature of environmental issues before President Nixon executed his southern strategy, which further split the parties.

  • ENTER CLIMATE CHANGE: Doug and Denis discuss the unique challenges of climate change and how it might have been dealt with on the original Earth Day. Denis explains how climate change was not yet an issue at the first Earth Day, but then through the 70s, a consensus developed among scientists that it was a growing problem.

  • FROM CARTER TO REAGAN: Denis describes working for President Carter running the Federal Solar Research Institute.  Denis describes how science and facts were not as controversial as they are today. Denis describes an ambitious effort to reform the energy sector that was ultimately scrapped when Reagan came to power.

  • EARTH DAY 2020: Denis and Doug talk about the upcoming 50 year anniversary of Earth Day.

  • THE EMERALD CORRIDOR: Denis talks about his work at the Bullitt Foundation, which seeks to create a sustainable urban corridor in the Pacific Northwest. Doug and Denis discuss adaptation and challenges of planned retreat.

Segment two: Bill McKibben

In the second half of the show, I talk with climate change legend Bill McKibben, founder of

  • BILL MAHER AND CLIMATE CHANGE: Bill discusses his recent appearance on HBO’s Bill Maher show and how these unique opportunities create opportunities to reach a large number of people (and Bill was quite funny on the show).

  • PRESIDENT COAL: Bill discusses what the election of Donald Trump means for progress on climate change. Bill doesn’t spin the situation:  his administration is a pretty devastating development.

  • BIPARTISAN SOLAR: Bill describes the opportunity for legislative agreement through solar power, which polls extremely well in both parties.

  • ADAPTATION AT 350: Doug and Bill talk adaptation and if it takes away from society needing to focus on carbon mitigation.  Bill says, “Adapt to that you can’t prevent . . . but prevent at all costs that which you can’t adapt to.’”

  • THE CLIMATE MARCHES ON: Bill discusses the upcoming climate change march on April 29th in locations around the world. We talk about how climate march compliments the science march.

  • YOU AND CLIMATE CHANGE: Bill gives advice on what an individual can do to affect change and how collective action will be the only effective response.

More information

Bill McKibben on the Bill Maher Show:


Doug Parsons and Speaking Opportunities:
If you are interested in having Doug speak at corporate and conference events, sharing his unique, expert perspective on adaptation in an entertaining and informative way, more information can be found here!

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