The Sophie Prize is an international award (US $ 100,000), for environment and sustainable development, awarded annually. The Sophie Prize is established to inspire people working towards a sustainable future. The Prize was established in 1997 by the Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder and his wife Siri Dannevig.
The jury says that "To push through the changes needed, the Sophie Prize Winner 2013 believes in “the currencies of movement”. Bill McKibben demonstrates how grassroots activism is urgently needed AND can make a difference."
Bill McKibben (1960) is the award-winning American journalist, author and environmentalist who became one of the world’s leading climate activist. In the past few years he has been animating and mobilizing a global movement based on the conviction that if we are to stay below 2°C of warming, we can emit less than 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide. Fossil fuel corporations have more than five times that amount in reserves.
“Unless we rise up to stop them – they’re planning to burn it all”, McKibben says.
The Sophie Prize Winner 2013 has spent his working career informing people of climate change through news articles, opinion editorials, blog posts and a number of books. McKibben is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
His first book The Nature (1989) is recognized as the first popular book on climate change. In 2010 he published Eaarth: Making a Life on a tough New Planet, describing the onset of climate change: “We’ve built a new Eaarth. It’s not as nice as the old one; it’s the greatest mistake humans have ever made, one that we will pay literally forever. We live on a new planet. But we have to live on it. So we better start understanding what is going on”.
In spite of strong warnings from scientists that this planet is in unprecedented peril, politics have not changed. McKibben blames the overwhelming power of the fossil-fuel industry.
This year’s Sophie Prize Winner underlines, however, that fast collective action is urgently needed to avoid an increase in temperature that our civilization can’t handle.
“One could despair, and one probably should. But I’m not quite ready, because I don’t think all the available avenues of democratic influence have been tried”.
“Climate change is the single biggest thing humans have ever done on this planet. The only thing that needs to be bigger is our movement to stop it”, Bill McKibben writes.
This year's Sophie Prize will be the last awarded, since the fund has now been depleted.