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Ralph discusses with environmental champion, Bill McKibben, how to take the fight for the climate to “the next level of intensity,” plus his new book, “The Flag, The Cross, And The Station Wagon: A Graying American Looks Back at His Suburban Boyhood and Wonders What the Hell Happened.”

Bill McKibben is an author, environmentalist, and activist who founded –a global grassroots climate campaign – and Third Act – which organizes people over the age of 60 for action on climate change, racial equity, and the protection of democracy. He is a regular contributor to the New Yorker climate change series “Annals of a Warming Planet”, and his new book is The Flag, The Cross, And The Station Wagon: A Graying American Looks Back at His Suburban Boyhood and Wonders What the Hell Happened.


Even the oil companies are past the point of pretending that climate change isn’t real. And now denial comes mostly in the form of endless delay. Endless insistence that their business plan is somehow still compatible with a climate-safe world.

Bill McKibben, author of The Flag, The Cross, And The Station Wagon


There are two levers big enough to be worth pulling. One of them is marked “Politics,” and we’ve all been pulling it as hard as we can, and we’ll continue to do so… The other lever that’s worth pulling is marked “Finance.”

Bill McKibben, author of The Flag, The Cross, And The Station Wagon


There is a bit of a gerontocracy in DC. There is no question. And we haven’t heard that much from them [at Third Act]. And truthfully our goal is not necessarily to keep people of a certain age in power. In fact, I think our hope is to partner more and more with young people.

Bill McKibben, author of The Flag, The Cross, And The Station Wagon


The urgency, which you have articulated better than probably anybody in the world over climate chaos, requires a much more rigorous choice. We know that all activity flows in the same river, eventually… These corporations can drag things on all the way to Armageddon. And we need something extremely dramatic that the press cannot ignore.

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Ep 430 Transcript (Right click to download)


  1. Nettie McGee says:

    I live near Appleton, Wi. The so-called Progressive hub of this metropolitan area. I call it Appletonia, cause it is just a “pipe dream”, when you look closely. I am frustrated and feel like I will never penetrate the wall of comfort and privilege that covers the White Folks in this Community. At the Everytown for Gun Safety rally, held yesterday, I was told my sign The War Economy is Immoral, had no place at that rally. Refusing to see, how the Violence and Terrorism we export around the world has come home to roost.. Wisconsin, has beautiful Seasonal weather, and even though even our Farmers admit there has been challenges not experienced before, it is hard to get any action on the changes needed to mitigate the effects of Climate Chaos. Everyone here is too damn comfortable. How do I create the conditions to get more action locally, under the conditions that exist here?

  2. BP says:

    First, I am total believer in a total rollback of humanity on this planet. I like the “Half-Earth” idea, or anything adjacent to it. I am not sure it is not too late to avoid total destruction of life on this planet, and if we can a little later the curve of human population will swamp whatever we do and put us right back in the S**T again. It it was up to me I’d impose China’s one child policy on everyone on the planet, tax carbon, demand closed-loop regulation on every industry, and plan to separate Earth processes from humanity’s industrial processed by law.

    To do the things we are going to need energy on such a massive scale that solar will never be up to the task; to do such as desalinate water on a massive level undreamt of, and pump that water around the whole western United States to save nature, to be able to recycle, re-use or incinerate wastes that we have build up for decades, and to power a society that increasingly technological in a clean and sustainable way – in a mode that will bring all humans up to a given level of civilization and hygiene.

    The people on the “green” side of things are just as ignorant and set in their ways as the industrialists. The constant bashing of nuclear power with the same ignorant arguments doesn’t help the image of the environmentalists. It just makes both sides look equally repellent, or close to it.

    You bash nuclear, and demonstrate against it, you play right into the hands of the oil cartels, and they love it! Create a social phobia over the technology of nuclear, shut them down and then fire up gas, oil and coal plant is just beyond belief.

    Of course insurance costs are going to be huge because you make every possible venture a losing gamble, then you smile and say it’s too expensive. Even looking at costs double or triple initial estimates, nuclear power is so cost effective because the ongoing costs after the loans are construction costs are done is so low for up to 50 years ( or more ) after all those expenses are PAID OFF. The anti-nuclear power automatons just spout off these talking points like brainwashed religious fanatics who it would never occur in a million years to ever do a reality check on their information or biases. Ralph being a constant blinkered mind on the question of nuclear.

    I am no fan of McKibben, but he is right about nuclear, and notice how meekly he has to express that because the idiots on the ( mostly the ) Left will turn on him like a pack of rabid dogs if he says anything good about nuclear – because they are ignorant, closed minded, fear driven, useless citizens that are as much a part of the problem as the oil companies. That is, the government pays no attention to them whatever the numbers they come up with because they are incoherent losers and to forge policy based on their idiocy is destructive. So goes our democracy when people weight in on stuff they know nothing about but have succumbed to emotional media conditioning.

    I dare any of you to watch this video all the way through, or any of Prof. David Ruzik’s videos on radiation or nuclear energy and then come back with any valid significant criticism.

    Economics of Nuclear Reactor

    The other thing constantly and totally ignored or dismissed is the advancement of technology, of the necessity of some media programming to get people to change their attitudes about nuclear. It’s not enough to just stop terrifying people – EDUCATE THEM. Every time I mention this – and never get a response – I point out that the question is …

    1. Do we want to build heavy into clean and cheap nuclear power mass production and take the chance that there might be occasional failures, but most likely on a smaller and smaller scale, but maybe not, OR

    2. Do we just want to plunge ahead the way we have been going on for sure doom life on this planet, and the last years of life on this planet are miserable, war-torn, and inhuman?

    Every single technology has had problems with it, but few have had the borden of the development of nuclear, combined with the utter incompetent failures of maximal profiteering capitalism, or stupid engineering, but it works very well …. oddly enough look at Ukraine, a country with a very low carbon footprint. Regulation will be necessary, but so far there is really no waste problem, and the problems that exist are all manageable, so far – unlike global warming, or as I call it Planetary Hotboxing.

  3. John Puma says:

    I will concede that a brief mention was made of the CRITICAL strategy: i.e. Lovins’ energy conservation.
    The only effective approach to worsening climate disruption are drastic cuts in personal consumption, not only of evident energy sources, i.e. gasoline, propane, etc but of all material goods which, ultimately, and inevitably, require energy for their production.

    There is no need to wring hands about an “unresponsive” (if only that were the problem!) congress. The collective result of enough individual actions (or is that inaction?) can occur without reference or recourse to the foot-dragging, (when not outright attacks on sane proposals) of the congressional servants of the capitalist system of “consume more tomorrow that you did yesterday.”

    I am NOT saying it would be easy, hardly. But it is the ONLY approach that we have to avoid the prospect of a dire future which our prior consumption has guaranteed. Note: fossil fuel corporations have no incentive whatsoever to listen to the public’s demands (however righteous they may be!) as long as that same public continues to directly and indirectly purchase the products of those corporations.

  4. David Faubion says:

    Bill McKibben and Ralph Nader advocate two paths, one each, toward defanging the fossil beast. Thus, we can fight is on two fronts giving us hope and option. Bill’s citing of Sunrise’s study on the big banks’ use of our savings for fossil investment had me worried about the capitalizing that my credit union makes. But not to worry, Dave. CUs are mandated to ‘not invest outside of their community,’ so says Green America’s better banking division.

    A variation of the action that Ralph backs is the electoral reform that Dr. Michael Mann talked about in the context of Australia’s rank-choice and mandated voting, in his 20-minute interview on ‘Background Briefing. The Q&A focused on Dr. Mann’s recent article at The Guardian, “How Australia’s electoral system allowed voters to finally impose a ceasefire in the climate wars.”

    Hence, what we are seeing now are climate scientists and writers striking at the political root of the problem. The banks and governments investing our money—whether it is our taxes or our savings—is as political as it gets. Forcing the status quo and incumbent political shills for the fossil system via our antiquated, corrupt, incompetent, and feeble political apparatus—is a political paradox. Mann, McKibben, and Nader are done talking about the climate science, logistics of transitioning, and terrifying timelines, projections, and future scenarios—because the junk science that needs our vigilant recycling is political.

    Another of Dr. Mann’s current articles, this one co-authored with Thomas Bateman, is “The Power to Save the Planet Is Inside Us All – How to get past Despair to Powerful Action on Climate Change [Chaos]” at The Conversation:

  5. Wendy NooN says:

    I love the Idea of reDiscovering the GREY PANTHERS.
    I also love the idea of GREY HAIR”D Gents & Ladys Walking & Knocking on Doors
    of Congress during the 5 days of the Working Week their Offices are Open with Interns, etc.
    I also Wood Love to See a List, “Where to Stay”on a Social Security Income.
    I believe we can make a “Call OuT” for “Grey Panthers” & “NadeR’s RaideR’s

    I worry tremendously about the “CLEAN NUCLEAR SCAM”
    What is more COSTIC & DANGEROUS (1) in its boiling creation; (2) storing the poisionous
    material; (3) Exploding the poisionous material so the DAILY CLOUDS of NUCLEAR FALLOUT
    will be BREATHED IN GLOBALLY; Lower People’s Resistance

  6. Don Harris says:

    A Public Request for Ralph Nader to Swing into Action

    You may notice the similarity between the title here and the title of your recent blog “A Public Request for Nick Hanauer to Swing into Action”.

    It is not the only similarity.

    Just as you have not been able to get through to Nick Hanauer for eight years, I have not been not been able to get through to you to get an opinion, advice and help since 2015 on One Demand.

    One Demand is a way for citizens to demand politicians run small donor campaigns and enforce that demand with our votes. This will force politicians to choose between taking big money and getting our votes. Basic democracy in action.

    Just as your initiative meets Nick Hanauer’s five criteria for civic action One Demand meets your criteria for civic action.

    You have often said politicians want our votes more than big money.

    One Demand can put this theory into action.

    One Demand would be citizens working together across party lines on the common goal of getting big money out of politics. A goal that over 80% of citizens want.

    Your one percent of citizens in a district could mobilize other citizens to participate on this goal that 80% of citizens agree on.

    Just 10% of voters nationally participating in 2022 could have a small effect on the 2022 elections and the behavior of the politicians elected and re-elected in 2022 during their term of office while building a base that that would inspire more citizens to participate in 2024.

    With 10% of voters participating In 2022 there would be some congressional districts at or below the 10% average with some above the 10% average. In districts at or above the average this could be enough votes to cover the difference between the two big money candidates in the district.

    This could cause a district gerrymandered for one of the two halves of the one big money party to flip to the other half of the one big money party. Just one or two districts having this happen or even making it a 2-3% margin of victory instead 10-15% could put many more gerrymandered districts in question in 2024 as it could inspire more people to participate in 2024 building on the base established in 2022 to 20-25% or more participation in 2024.

    With 20-25% participation in 2024 there would be many politicians seeking those votes in districts near, at or above the national average by running small donor campaigns in the primaries which could be enough in some districts for a small donor candidate to defeat the big money incumbent in the primaries.

    It could also make some third party candidates viable in the 2024 general election against two big money candidates.

    In states that have top two primaries a small donor candidate could win one of the two spots on the 2024 general election ballot.

    There are many potential participants around the country for 2022.

    In districts that are gerrymandered for the Deathocrats there could be many Republican voters that could be convinced their votes for Republikillers are wasted as their candidate can’t win. The same thing could happen with Democrat voters in districts gerrymandered for Republikillers.

    After all, the supporters of the Deathocrats and Republikillers often say that a vote for a third party or independent candidate is wasted because that candidate can’t win.

    Voters that feel they are choosing the lesser of evils are also potential participants in 2022.

    Other than 2018 there has always been a drop off in voters voting in mid-term elections and any voters that might not be voting in the midterms are also potential participants.

    Just 10% of the 150 million 2020 voters committing 100 dollars in contributions to small donor candidates would total 1.5 billion dollars and be just the tip of the iceberg.

    You said in your blog “The time is ripe for action, not just talk.”.

    When I talked to you on 10-24-2018 when you were on Washington Journal you said you would have me on the Radio Hour to discuss One Demand. You have only addressed One Demand briefly in a listener question where you dismissed One Demand agreeing with your guest that it would not make a difference because Bernie and Trump ran small donor campaigns. They did not run small donor campaigns.

    The time is ripe for action, and it starts with you making good on your statement that you would have me on the Radio Hour to discuss One Demand. Then I will be able to explain to you why Trump and Bernie did not run small donor campaigns and address other concerns or objections you may have to testing your theory that politicians want our votes more than big money by organizing citizens to use the basic principles of democracy to demand small donor candidates and enforce that demand with our votes.

    Tempus fugit.

    As more time flies by without you taking action our democracy gets closer and closer to it’s impending demise.

    That will result in many flies attracted to the rotting carcass of democracy.

    Think of One Demand as a vaccine against the infection of our political process by big money that has reached pandemic proportions.


    As you said to Nick Hanauer, you know how to contact me.

  7. Steve Sloane says:

    We can all demonstrate in front of our Congressman’s office for peace. A sign might say “advocate for peace”. It is the primary issue for our environment and social justice. The demonstrations provide opportunities to raise the issue to independent media, what is left of it, and literally takes the issue to the people, on the streets. I support the Green Party aka Nader platform, which can be promoted in our advocacy. We need to replace our incumbents one at the time. Can the social movement propel a third party to an effective level that will move incumbents? Got a better idea? PS Nukes Pukes!

  8. Don Harris says:

    The worst thing about Ralph not helping with One Demand is that Ralph could accomplish so much more of his goals helping with One Demand than he could with Nick Hanauer helping Ralph.

  9. chris rizzo says:

    McKibben has swung 180 degrees from his original I’m surprised you had him on.

    • ed finnerty says:

      I’m with you. I can’t understand why Ralph would choose McKibben for this subject after “Planet of the Humans”. McKibben reminds me of one of those megachurch preachers who gets caught in a hotel with a prostitute. But I guess if you can resuscitate George Bush’s reputation, there’s hope for Mc Kibben. The Guardian likes him.

  10. Ron Fisher says:

    Bill Mckibben deserves a great deal of credit for the work he has done to combat climate change. I agree with him about taking the fight for climate change (global warming) to the next level of intensity. I believe the best way to do this is by implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as described on so that the climate change SDGs namely:

    – SDG 13 – Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

    – SDG 7 – Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

    will be implemented worldwide.

    A large part of the funding required to implement the UN SDGs can be provided by implementing my very large and extremely important Whistleblower Claim.

    In his book “Sane Society,” Erich Fromm states that major changes must include changes in the related spheres economic, education, political and cultural spheres. This implies that as my Whistleblower Claim is implemented and as The Fed is ending, The More Important UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Target Action Plans (TAPs) and Target Actions (TAs) listed below must be implemented. SDG, TAPS, TAs and the paragraph numbering system are described in the Glossary of Terms. Every significant paragraph of the TAPs is uniquely numbered making it easier to recommend changes, add items, and edit these documents.

    List of The More Important UN SDGs, Target Action Plans (TAPs) and Target Actions (TAs)

    TAP18 End All Wars and Nuclear Weapons Permanently. Section 1: Introduction of TAP18 shows that wars, nuclear weapons, conflicts, occupations, threats of or use of force, violence, sanctions, etc. are all illegal and that all disputes must be settled by pacific (peaceful) means according to the Kellogg-Brian Pact.

    TA 18.4.2 Eliminate all nuclear weapons and funding for nuclear weapons and cancel nuclear weapon modernization and all other nuclear weapon programs.

    TA 18.4.3 End all wars, conflicts, use of force, drone attacks, bombings, covert operations, war on terror, government hacking and resolve all conflicts and disputes by pacific and legal means, diplomacy, and negotiations in particular in Afghanistan, Palestine, Gaza, Yemen and Syria.

    TA 18.4.4 Eliminate all economic sanctions on all countries starting with Iran (and return to the Iran nuclear deal). They are illegal because they are not pacific (peaceful) means of settling a dispute as required by the Kellogg Briand Pact of 1928.

    TA 18.4.10 Stop selling or providing arms, munitions, military training and intelligence gathering to all countries, in particular Israel, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and various militias in Syria, and prohibit them from using any previously provided arms, munitions and intelligence.

    TAP 18.4.14 Request the UN deploy U.N. Peacekeepers, security and law enforcement personnel, to be funded by the U.S., to areas where they are needed

    TAP20 Reform, Strengthen, Fully Fund and Support the United Nations and its Related Organizations which includes:

    TA 20.4.2 Help establish a UN Global Peacekeeping, Security and Law Enforcement System consisting of strengthened UN Peacekeepers, ICC, Interpol and the World Court with the authority to open satellite offices, rapidly make and enforce international laws and help settle all conflicts and disputes by pacific means

    TAP27 Reform legal systems, enforce the rule of law and ensure justice for all

    TA The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, includes in articles 22 to 27: the right to social security; the right to work; the right to equal-pay-for-equal-work; the right to rest-and-leisure; the right to a standard-of-living adequate for health and well-being; the right to education; and the right to participate in the cultural life of the community

    TA 27.4.3 Ensure that there is an enforced rule of law at all levels of governments including international levels:

    TAP1 Put everyone from the public and private sectors possible including all the under and unemployed, refugees, migrants, prisoners, etc. to work at living wages collaborating and working together implementing the SDG TAPs from a common set of plans, in particular TAPs 25 and 41 below:

    TAP25 Reverse Global Warming and mitigate its adverse effects in particular devastating weather

    TAP44 Provide reliable, clean, renewable energy for everyone

    TAP41 Eradicate all poverty. Ensure everyone has a basic living income, basic assets including a decent dwelling and savings and all the needs and necessities for a decent life and becomes self-sufficient.

    TAP3 Provide universal, comprehensive, quality healthcare for all which is one of the needs and necessities for a decent life

    TAP30 Humane Private Prosecutions

    TAP 32 Reform Taxes

    TAP80 Generate Renewable Electrical Energy, Cool Ocean Surface Temperatures and Help Increase Ocean Alkalinization Primarily Using OTEC.

    TAP81 Provide Fire Protection of Terrestrial Ecosystems In Rainforests, Forests, Peat bogs, Mountains, Drylands and Communities in Forests in particular, rapidly extinguish wild fires all over the world (see my website

    Target Action 22.4.14 Enforce the fact that under our constitution people are sovereign as described in the below Supreme Court rulings. Julliard v Greenman, 110 U.S. 421 (1884) “There is no such thing as a power of inherent sovereignty in the government of the United States… In this country, sovereignty resides in the people, and Congress can exercise no power which they have not, by their Constitution entrusted to it. All else is withheld.” Perry v. U.S., 294 U.S. 330 (1935): “In the United States, sovereignty resides in the people… the Congress cannot invoke sovereign power of the People to override their will as thus declared.” Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356 (1886): “Sovereignty itself is, of course, not subject to law, for it is the author and source of law… While sovereign powers are delegated to… the government, sovereignty itself remains with the people.”

    There are additional SDGs, TAPs and TAs in the Plan for the Public and Private Sectors to Rapidly Implement the more urgent UN SDG Target Action Plans (TAPs).