Here at 350.org, we were honored that the Sophie Prize Award chose our founder, Bill McKibben, as their 2013 award recipient. The Sophie Prize is one of the most prestigious environmental awards in the world. A big congratulations to Silje Lundberg, the elected leader of Norway’s largest environmental organization for youth, Nature and Youth, and Alec Loorz, founder of Kids vs. Climate Change, who both received this years Sophie Legacy Prize. We've pasted Bill's speech from the awards ceremony below.
Bill McKibben's Speech at the Sophie Prize Awards Ceremony, Oslo, Norway
I am so grateful for this prize.
It means a great deal to me for many reasons. One, of course, is the source: Jostein Gaarder and his wonderful book about Sophie Amundsen provided great reading pleasure, and to know of his remarkable generosity makes the conclusions of the book that much more powerful.
And it doesn’t hurt that I have a daughter named Sophie. In fact, she is slightly Norwegian herself, having spent two years at the UWC Red Cross campus at Flekkefjord, and in the process acquired a Norwegian boyfriend and a pretty good command of the language. I wish she were here to translate for me; alas, she’s grown up now and in college. But it is very good to be joined by her friend Henrik’s parents, Mona and Arne Gundersen.
For myself, Norway has always been the country I love the most beyond my own. Partly that’s because my great vice has been Nordic skiing, one of this nation’s gifts to the planet. I’ve gotten to ski the Oslomarka and race the Birkebeiner, and cheer on my athletic heroes from Ulvang to Daehlie to Bjornedaelen to Northug, though always with a particular soft spot for the incomparable Marit Bjoergen. It’s a thrill to be in Oslo as the winter begins.
That said, I recognize that this honor is not really for me; it’s for the many thousands of people who have come together in recent years to form the climate movement. Let me say at the beginning that this movement should be unnecessary. A quarter century ago scientists explained that climate change was real and constituted the greatest threat that our species had yet faced. It was in those years that I wrote the first account of global warming for a general audience. If our systems of governance worked the way they should, then those calls would have been heeded, and we would have gone straight to work on the monumental but do-able task of transitioning off of fossil fuels and towards renewable energy. We wouldn’t be finished the job yet, but we’d be well begun, on the way to a sounder future.