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KPBS Midday Edition

Clean energy ready to replace fossil fuel, environmentalist says

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Katie Schoolov

Bill McKibben argues for a quick switch away from fossil fuel. "We're all but out of time," he warns.

Temperatures in Antarctica reached 70 degrees Fahrenheit above normal in March. That's just one of the distressing headlines putting a spotlight on climate change right now. Even the most dire predictions about climate change, though, include the important caveat that it's not too late to change course.

"The answer clearly lies in getting off fossil fuel, which we're now able to do," environmentalist Bill McKibben said.

But the move would not be easy.

"It would take extraordinary effort to build out those renewable resources, in the same way that, in the run up to World War II, we quickly used our industrial might to build the things we needed then," he said.

RELATED: 350.org Founder McKibben Discusses Significance Of Record Atmospheric Carbon Levels

The author and founder of Third Act joined Midday Edition to talk about what it will take to move away from carbon-emitting fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy. He wrote about the topic in an essay for The New Yorker, “In a World on Fire, Stop Burning Things."

McKibben said the remaining obstacles to moving away from fossil fuels were more political than technological. Clean energy technology has evolved and become cheaper, marking a key distinction from fossil fuels, which grow more expensive to find and cultivate, he said.

"We should seize this moment to do this fast, because 'fast' is the operative word here," McKibben said. "We're up against a timed test with climate change and, if we don't meet that timed test, then whatever we do decades from now won't matter."