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Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist Hardcover – September 17, 2013
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jcSince 2007, former New Yorker writer McKibben (The End of Nature), has been at the forefront of the grassroots movement to fight global warming. With his organization, 350.org, McKibben has encouraged people all over the world to commit acts of civil disobedience in order to publicize the way climate change had affected their way of life. He has also worked to challenge the Keystone XL Pipeline project, endorsed by the Obama administration, but excoriated by environmentalists. Here, McKibben's accounts of activism are punctuated with visits to a friend's farm, and discussions of small-scale farming techniques and bee husbandry. Although he was harnessing the power of politicians, scientists, billionaires, and celebrities and speaking through the loudest megaphone of his career, McKibben kept returning to the beehives flourishing in the Vermont woods. What lessons in organization, adaptation, and endurance could be gleaned from the way bees work together and interact with their environment? Tracking the emotional and intellectual journey that took McKibben from Vermont to picket lines in Washington, D.C. to town halls, universities, and arenas, the book is a call to action and an inspiring playbook for making change—both locally and globally—in the 21st century. (Sept.)
*Starred Review* As global warming accelerates, McKibben, who has been writing about climate change and fossil fuels for 25 years, has stepped up his innovative activism even though all he really wants to do is stay home in Vermont and appreciate nature’s magnificent choreography. The title of his fifteenth book encapsulates the two lives he juxtaposes in this confiding and dramatic chronicle of environmental action in the Internet age, especially his founding of the nimble and impactful organization 350.org. On the oil front, McKibben illuminates the thinking behind and courage involved in protests against the Keystone XL pipeline, including his time in jail. Honey refers to his collaboration with beekeeper Kirk Webster, whose dream was to establish a chemical-free apiary and share his sustainable bee-raising techniques. McKibben eloquently contrasts the deep benefits of Webster’s work with the unconscionable risks of tar-sands oil production and the toxicity of Washington politics. In this moving, wryly amusing account set against the heated presidential campaign of 2012, McKibben describes his extraordinary world travels and what it took to launch gutsy, creative, and effective protests, and shares invaluable information and such intriguing insights as what bees can teach us about reaching consensus. Galvanizing and inspiring. --Donna Seaman
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There is a mixture of facts, personal encounters with a diverse range of folks who are dealing with the challenge of trying to change the system.
Unfortunately, the system is geared in part to Politicians and in turn they are beholden to influence of money. There is no coincidence that the most profitable business on the planet gets their ear and support. Mr McKibben shows how activism by ordinary citizens banding together can engage the Institutions that are non-responsive to the repeated calls of leading scientists and science organizations to reduce greenhouse emissions and other causes of climate change. Sometimes that means getting arrested and spending days in jail as a peaceful protest.
I read the whole book in one sitting and will read it again.
IMO, we are in a protracted war to battle climate change and the work that Bill describes is about a major effort in that war written while the war is still being fought. As my review's title relates, it is as if one read a book by a major player in the civil rights movement before the major federal civil rights legislation passed in the 60's.
Bill is one of the true heroes of the the war on climate change and his book is a riveting account of the last few years in this war and the important part that he has played. It is well written and inspiring and I highly recommend it.
Not only is it worth your time - which is precious - it doesn't insult your intelligence.
This author begins:
"Chapter One: Two Lives
Here's a story of two lives lived in response to a crazy time--a time when the Arctic melted and the temperature soared, a time when the planet began to come apart, a time when bee populations suddenly dropped in half. Each story is extreme. They're not intended as suggestions for how others should live, and I hope the reader won't feel the need to choose, or reject, either one. Each story is mine, at least in part, for sometimes I think I've learned more in the past two years than in all the decades that came before. Some of that education came in the tumult and conflict of my own life, as I helped to build an active resistance to the fossil fuel industry. And some came in the beeyards of my home state, while I carefully watched a very different, very beautiful way of dealing with a malfunctioning modernity. These stories mesh together, I hope: awkwardly right now, but perhaps, with luck, more easily in the time to come."
This book isn't quite a call to action but it will certainly impress upon you the need to pay attention, be engaged, and do something, anything, to slow climate change.