Oil and Honey: The Education of An Unlikely Activist
Bill McKibben (2013)
In his book Oil and Honey, Bill McKibben offers an account of his life as a climate hero. He shares with readers his personal experiences, as he helped to grow the movement to combat climate change. Of course the struggle continues, and McKibben is still quite active (follow him on Twitter). This book is essentially his origin story. It describes how his activism began and grew, as well as specifics in his approach.
As with so many hero stories, McKibben did not set out looking to be a leader. Originally, Bill McKibben had simply been a humble author (and all around good human), writing about environmental issues for decades.
A Turning Point
At some point however, it changed for him. Despite all the overwhelming evidence in support of the climate emergency, government leaders were not responding accordingly. What’s more, society at large seemed to be overwhelming unaware or outright deceived about the severity of the climate crisis.
Bill McKibben is a proficient writer and renown author. Still, his words were not making the impact he knew was needed. As a result, he felt strongly compelled to do more. Having fully appreciated the gravity of the climate crisis, McKibben understood the need to take action in order to help avert the ongoing destruction of our planet.
As a result, Bill McKibben (along with a number of dedicated individuals), helped found 350.org. It’s an organization intent on fighting against our over-dependence on fossil fuels. This book describes the undertaking, and the challenges faced grass-root movements.
Throughout it all, McKibben seeks to reconcile his desire for peace and quiet, with the need to protect it. Sadly, he feels that he can’t lead the simple life, he just knows too much!
McKibben’s quest for achieving balance makes for the very premise of his personal story, and by extension his memoir. The book offers insightful details explaining his actions and motivations. On the one hand, McKibben lives and breaths for his home and family back in Vermont. He is clearly proud of his home state, its people as well as its nature.
On the other, McKibben is forced to constantly leave his home and his attachments (honey, hiking, etc.). He is compelled to travel the world, helping to invigorate the battle for the environment. It takes its toll, but he has not lost hope. Fortunately, McKibben also has allies in his effort to wean governments and society of their fossil fuel addictions.
An Unlikely Hero
The conflict is obviously fierce, and it does impact him, but in McKibben’s mind it is worth it if he can help make the world a better place. Indeed, McKibben’s mind is a sharp instrument, dispelling a wealth of knowledge on environmental matters and progressive solutions (see Divestments).
Although he may not have started out on this path with the intention of becoming the environmental hero, his active involvement in the movement, as well as his words and counsel have pretty much made the designation.
Go For It
I highly recommend this book. It will definitely help to provide you with a better understanding of the momentous struggle underway. It also offers readers a clearer view of what McKibben (and others like him), are fighting for. In the process, it might help reassert your hope in people. 😉
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