I admire much of Bill McKibben’s work and I appreciate the time he has taken to express his concerns. There are items in his response to “Planet of the Humans,” which I feel compelled to respond to.
“Planet of the Humans” does not charge 350.org or Mr. McKibben with taking corporate money.
Bill McKibben has indicated he came out against biomass in 2016. We were aware of Mr. McKibben’s 2016 op-ed presenting disadvantages of biomass. That op-ed also states that existing biomass plants should nevertheless remain in operation. These actions are an endorsement of the status quo, and do not meet Mr. McKibben’s own standards for action. As of this date, Mr. McKibben has not called for the biomass plant at Middlebury College, nor biomass plants in general to be closed. Mixed-messaging is a topic portrayed in the film.
After writing his 2016 op-ed, Mr. McKibben continued support for national legislation to fund new biofuel/biomass infrastructure. In 2017, he endorsed the 100 by ’50 Act, which included grants up to $100 million for “second-generation advanced biofuels,” which are defined as including wood chips and forestry “waste,” as well as the extension of biofuel producer credits, which the Koch Brothers had also lobbied for. During this period after his 2016 op-ed, Mr. McKibben also supported a Sierra Club initiative called “Ready for 100,” which cited Burlington, Vermont, whose biomass plant is featured in the film, as an example of 100% renewable energy.
Mr. McKibben’s subsequent op-ed, which came out after the premiere of the film at the Traverse City Film Festival, is noted at the end of the film.
The film includes an interview with Mr. McKibben, which he walked away from. This interview was part of an organized media event. Mr. McKibben’s support for Proposal 3 in Michigan, the biomass plant at Middlebury College, Wall Street investment schemes, including those containing biomass, as well as his interview with us, are representations of historical events.
“Planet of the Humans” illuminates that where any of us cling to illusions, and associate with those with a profit motive, we are susceptible to making poor choices for the planet – unintentionally advocating for those things we know we should resist, and losing sight of those things for which we should advocate.
My hope in making this film is that a new story emerges. Paradigm shifts are difficult but getting humanity and the environmental movement on a more earth-centered path is the only hope we have.