Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist Bill McKibben 2013
I’m usually reluctant to spend my precious spare time reading books about subjects which I’m already familiar with, or that might be ‘preaching to the converted’.
However, apart from the pedant in me finding the American grammar rather grating, I was surprisingly inspired by this book. It provided me an insight into his development as an activist, albeit a reluctant one at times. He writes honestly and candidly about his motivations and fears, including mentioning being admonished by his sister for persisting in portraying himself as ‘just and ordinary guy’ after he had risen to a leadership role with the 350.org movement.
It seems important to hear people’s stories rather than simply reading their published articles on a topic, in a manner to get to know them better. Even reading about the preparations for the Keystone XL pipeline demonstrations and his experience of being arrested and detained in the lock-up will help me, if and when I face a similar choice of activism. Reading about the development of his and the 350.org transition into activism supporting divestment from fossil fuels has clarified for me why we need to support a similar approach in Australia.
Finally, the achievements that were possible with coalitions of groups acting in concert, for example indigenous groups, local concerned citizen organisations and large environmental groups, highlight the importance of co-operative partnerships instead of acting in proud isolation.
So I recommend this as an interesting book for both already keen activists right through to the large mass of the population who don’t understand the concept of the carbon budget. This book won’t preach to them or make them feel guilty (he struggles with the guilt regarding his own air travel carbon footprint), as they join Bill McKibben on his journey from author and beekeeper to a reluctant, high profile climate activist. So buy it and then give your copy to friends and family to read after you have finished.