While my esteemed colleague Chris Faraone was inside at a Netroots Nation panel discussion about the Occupy movement this afternoon, I popped out to see what the Occupy movement was up to. Just in front of the main entrance to the Rhode Island Convention Center, some 15 Occupy types were sitting in a semi-circle on the pavement, listening to an older guy, in glasses and a "Stop Keystone XL" T-shirt talking about the need to end corporate subsidies. There as much twinkling of fingers. The older guy looked an awful lot like Bill McKibben, I thought -- and sure enough it was.
McKibben has been playing Cassandra on environmental science, and climate change in particular, for nearly a quarter-century -- I was reading and discussing his articles back in my Medford days of 1989-'90. So after he wrapped up with his sidewalk Occupy audience I asked him whether he was seeing anything, in the Netroots or Occupy worlds or elsewhere, that gave him optimism.
"We're definitely still losing," McKibben said. "But we're losing with more vigor than we were before, and you gotta start somewhere."
He's currently working through 350.org -- and the defeat of the Republican Senator from his former home state is one of his top agenda items. "Scott Brown is in the hip pocket of the fossil fuel industry," he told me, with considerable contempt.
He wasn't yet sure what Elizabeth Warren's full environmental platform is, but "she's manifestly highly intelligent, and high intelligence correlates strongly with being aware about the world and being aware about climate change, so I'm reasonably confident," he said, that she would do well on the issue as a US Senator.
For those in Providence, McKibben will also be speaking inside the building later today.