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Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist

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Bestselling author and environmental activist Bill McKibben recounts the personal and global story of the fight to build and preserve a sustainable planet Bill McKibben is not a person you'd expect to find handcuffed and behind bars, but that's where he found himself in the summer of 2011 after leading the largest civil disobedience in thirty years, protesting the Keystone Bestselling author and environmental activist Bill McKibben recounts the personal and global story of the fight to build and preserve a sustainable planet Bill McKibben is not a person you'd expect to find handcuffed and behind bars, but that's where he found himself in the summer of 2011 after leading the largest civil disobedience in thirty years, protesting the Keystone XL pipeline in front of the White House. With the Arctic melting, the Midwest in drought, and Irene scouring the Atlantic, McKibben recognized that action was needed if solutions were to be found. Some of those would come at the local level, where McKibben joins forces with a Vermont beekeeper raising his hives as part of the growing trend toward local food. Other solutions would come from a much larger fight against the fossil-fuel industry as a whole. Oil and Honey is McKibben’s account of these two necessary and mutually reinforcing sides of the global climate fight—from the center of the maelstrom and from the growing hive of small-scale local answers. With empathy and passion he makes the case for a renewed commitment on both levels, telling the story of raising one year’s honey crop and building a social movement that’s still cresting.


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Bestselling author and environmental activist Bill McKibben recounts the personal and global story of the fight to build and preserve a sustainable planet Bill McKibben is not a person you'd expect to find handcuffed and behind bars, but that's where he found himself in the summer of 2011 after leading the largest civil disobedience in thirty years, protesting the Keystone Bestselling author and environmental activist Bill McKibben recounts the personal and global story of the fight to build and preserve a sustainable planet Bill McKibben is not a person you'd expect to find handcuffed and behind bars, but that's where he found himself in the summer of 2011 after leading the largest civil disobedience in thirty years, protesting the Keystone XL pipeline in front of the White House. With the Arctic melting, the Midwest in drought, and Irene scouring the Atlantic, McKibben recognized that action was needed if solutions were to be found. Some of those would come at the local level, where McKibben joins forces with a Vermont beekeeper raising his hives as part of the growing trend toward local food. Other solutions would come from a much larger fight against the fossil-fuel industry as a whole. Oil and Honey is McKibben’s account of these two necessary and mutually reinforcing sides of the global climate fight—from the center of the maelstrom and from the growing hive of small-scale local answers. With empathy and passion he makes the case for a renewed commitment on both levels, telling the story of raising one year’s honey crop and building a social movement that’s still cresting.

30 review for Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Some weeks ago I got called an “ecological maniac.” You know what? Damn proud of it, and I’ll bet Bill McKibben would relish the epithet too. I’ve long known McKibben’s name and work, but never managed to read anything by him until I found this unusual memoir on NetGalley. As the title suggests, the book is based on a dichotomy. McKibben has two personae, as it were: both the globe-trotting environmental campaigner (“oil”), and the local Vermont homebody and writer (“honey” – especially connected Some weeks ago I got called an “ecological maniac.” You know what? Damn proud of it, and I’ll bet Bill McKibben would relish the epithet too. I’ve long known McKibben’s name and work, but never managed to read anything by him until I found this unusual memoir on NetGalley. As the title suggests, the book is based on a dichotomy. McKibben has two personae, as it were: both the globe-trotting environmental campaigner (“oil”), and the local Vermont homebody and writer (“honey” – especially connected with his friend Kirk Webster, who raises bees on McKibben’s farm). Here he seeks a balance between the two lives. McKibben begins with the major climate protests of 2011 (against the Keystone pipeline), when he and many others were arrested on the White House sidewalk and held in jail for two days. “I was an accidental activist, making it up as I went along, and kind of sorry to be having to bother anyone,” he confesses self-deprecatingly, but for daring to hold President Obama to account for his words on the environment, supporting the Occupy movement and speaking out about the ways in which politicians are in the pockets of Big Oil, McKibben has become a hero and a role model for many. In 2009 he was even lauded by the Turkish Orthodox Church’s Father Bartholomew, who said, “Global warming is a sin and 350 [McKibben’s campaign group] is an act of redemption.” Amen. Science is secondary in this more personal book, but McKibben still makes it clear that we are at a crisis point. Even in his ordinary New England life, the effects of climate change were clear: in 2011, when he returned from Washington, Vermont was dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irene; in March 2012, there was an unprecedented heat wave – North Dakota saw temperatures of 94 degrees! – and flowers and bees began altering their schedules. All this and more was the result of just one degree’s warming, while experts warn that an eventual 4-5 degrees is likely. To stay within scientists’ suggested limit of just two degrees’ warming, we must only emit another 565 gigatons of CO2. Guess how many gigatons the fossil fuel industry already has in reserve? 2,795. This is sobering stuff. And all too often any protest movement, even a great one like 350.org, can just seem like a finger in the dike. Yet McKibben should convince even cynics that there is something we can do. “You might think it’s a waste to preach to the choir, but the truth is, you need to get the choir fired up, singing loudly, all out of the same hymnal.” The “honey” sections of his book may be a strange fit in a political memoir, but they do provide a reassuring model of a small-scale sustainable project that envisions a different future (not a cheap one, though; even Webster’s spartan off-grid house cost nearly $200K). McKibben may be a realist (which means being a pessimist to some extent – the future really doesn’t look great based on our current trajectory), but there’s plenty of good-natured humor in this book too. I liked his joke that he’ll one day open a vegan restaurant called “Tastes Surprisingly Okay,” and I chuckled at Steven Colbert’s quip that McKibben must have travelled to the show on a car powered by self-righteousness. That McKibben can report such witticisms with humility shows he’s a decent human being who can appreciate the inbuilt contradictions and absurdities of a life spent campaigning for change. Oil and honey: McKibben doesn’t quite manage to reconcile the two topics into one coherent memoir, but for the environmentally-minded, I’d call this a must-read nonetheless.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kai

    "we wanted to send the message: There's nothing radical about what we're doing here." "We're just Americans interested in preserving a country" "I've never confused dissent with a lack of patriotism" I read this as part of my ongoing research on KXL. this is the kind of book that I'd give to my parents to try to help them understand what's going on in the world right now. lots of clarity, but at this point mckibben is who he is. his supposed transformation from a nature writer into an "unlikely ac "we wanted to send the message: There's nothing radical about what we're doing here." "We're just Americans interested in preserving a country" "I've never confused dissent with a lack of patriotism" I read this as part of my ongoing research on KXL. this is the kind of book that I'd give to my parents to try to help them understand what's going on in the world right now. lots of clarity, but at this point mckibben is who he is. his supposed transformation from a nature writer into an "unlikely activist" is pretty underwhelming; i mean, divestment and 'civil disobedience' are pretty basic liberal tactics that hardly result in systemic change, and what makes McKibben so 'unlikely'? I get that there's a significant amount of messaging and pandering going on, but i worry that mckibben's constant and consistent attempts to appeal to populism and centrism (cf die grunen - 'not left nor right but forwrad') rather than anything that could be seen as 'radical' are doing some damage. logically, i don't even understand the tactics...US quasi-left activist fears of "corporations" and "the fossil fuel industry" fail to recognize, for example, that most (~90% I think) of the world's oil reserves are owned by states, not firms. the disjunction between the recognition of corporate bad guys versus systemic problems (ie problems with capitalism as such) continues to plague anything approaching the political in the US. It's weird because he several times refers to "my friend Naomi Klein" and so on, and she at the very least is excellent at naming capitalism as root cause and the big green NGOs as collusive, not oppositional. i'm afraid the parts on honey are pretty blah too and reek of localism, romanticism, and small business capitalism.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alice Lippart

    Really loved the parts about bees and beekeeping, but the rest was honestly just kind of boring.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Merrikay

    Perfect first book of the year!  McKibben, the internationally known environmentalist and winner of the 2013 Gandhi prize has brought two stories together to give us both hope AND a plan for saving the environment.  With the story of a Vermont beekeeper McKibben gives us hope.  While the rest of the U.S. mourns the deaths and possible end of bees, McKibben's neighbor refuses to give up.  He also refuses to use chemicals to kill the mites that are destroying bee colonies nationally and worldwide. Perfect first book of the year!  McKibben, the internationally known environmentalist and winner of the 2013 Gandhi prize has brought two stories together to give us both hope AND a plan for saving the environment.  With the story of a Vermont beekeeper McKibben gives us hope.  While the rest of the U.S. mourns the deaths and possible end of bees, McKibben's neighbor refuses to give up.  He also refuses to use chemicals to kill the mites that are destroying bee colonies nationally and worldwide.  There is certainly an initial cost as he also loses bees, but the ones who survive have developed  immunity to these threats and come back stronger than ever.  The neighbor uses these colonies to continue developing a stronger group bees and guess what?  Not only does he save the bees, but he also makes money!  The initial investment (by loss) is returned many times and income increases both from increased honey and from selling queen bees.  This neighbor is the person/place where McKibben continually returns to remain grounded after being pummeled by politicians and others in the service of big oil. McKibben is a writer, a prolific one, and that is the work he enjoys most.  However, he finds himself pulled into activism as he realizes the importance and immediacy of working to save the environment.  As he chips away at different smaller pieces of this work, he comes to realize that the only way to win this is with immediate action as time is running out.  He decides to use the model of divestment from the oil companies themselves as the only way to find success - striking at the core.  He uses this model that was developed by others to help end apartheid in South Africa. This is a quick, easy and enjoyable read.  What we end up with is a solid working model for resisting climate change, along with a model for living that is more fulfilling as well as financially satisfying.  Five stars.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Siemann

    I'm a fan of McKibben's works, so I knew I would like this going in. This time, he centers on the local -- a bee keeper in Vermont who is fighting the good fight of localized, non-chemical, ethical production -- and the global -- his own turn to activism on climate change with 350.org. The frustrating thing is that with his activist hat on, McKibben is mostly speaking and getting arrested -- valuable things to do, but it's clear the major oil companies who are on the other side of this have sadl I'm a fan of McKibben's works, so I knew I would like this going in. This time, he centers on the local -- a bee keeper in Vermont who is fighting the good fight of localized, non-chemical, ethical production -- and the global -- his own turn to activism on climate change with 350.org. The frustrating thing is that with his activist hat on, McKibben is mostly speaking and getting arrested -- valuable things to do, but it's clear the major oil companies who are on the other side of this have sadly more effective means to get their policy done. Nonetheless, it's good to read about so many dedicated to the cause. He makes a very good point about corporations being not so much malevolent, as they are systems set up to do one thing, and do it effectively -- and to have no sense of anything else, most especially consequences. Citizens United is wrong -- they are not persons, and should not be treated as such. It was also nice to read about his fondness for NYC. His interest in small towns, community, traditional farming methods, and local production, most of which doesn't work in the context of the huge city, sometimes makes me feel guilty for loving to live here. It's nice to know he loves it too. I received an ARC of this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Jones

    Just amazing... McKibben's account of the last couple of years of the environmental/350.org movement brings home the Urgency of the stand that must be made against the fossil fuel industry. As an aside, I read this just after hearing him speak for the very first time in the Chicago area; he delivered one of the most powerful messages I've ever seen/heard in person. His words, written or spoken, have a way of calling one to action.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Correen

    McKibben shares his 350.org experience: its origins, setting up an international activist group, lobbying, campaigns, speaking tours, strategies, prison time, etc. To tell his story, he uses an oil and honey contrast with the honey being his life as a beekeeper and the nature of bees with the oil industry and his attempts to ameliorate big oil's impact on the environment. The book reads like one that has been primarily dictated and then blended, organized in chapters, and polished. It has a folk McKibben shares his 350.org experience: its origins, setting up an international activist group, lobbying, campaigns, speaking tours, strategies, prison time, etc. To tell his story, he uses an oil and honey contrast with the honey being his life as a beekeeper and the nature of bees with the oil industry and his attempts to ameliorate big oil's impact on the environment. The book reads like one that has been primarily dictated and then blended, organized in chapters, and polished. It has a folksy and warm presentation but I found it slower to read and harder for me to mentally organize in my memory than I would have liked. I finish with a collage of memories, vocabulary, interesting incidents, bits of research, and examples. I liked his description of corporations being like bee hives -- simple in purpose and effective in task completion but amoral and poor in consideration of future and their place in a greater system.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    This was a super quick read on global warming and the effects it is having on the environment.....which brings us to the bees and how they are affected. I found the bee information to be pretty interesting. But the author pointed out other problematic effects as well. He also squarely pointed out that the blame lies heavily on politicians and big greedy corporations. I liked this book. I'm just not a fan of gloom and doom, and this made me feel gloomy because I felt like such a small and insignif This was a super quick read on global warming and the effects it is having on the environment.....which brings us to the bees and how they are affected. I found the bee information to be pretty interesting. But the author pointed out other problematic effects as well. He also squarely pointed out that the blame lies heavily on politicians and big greedy corporations. I liked this book. I'm just not a fan of gloom and doom, and this made me feel gloomy because I felt like such a small and insignificant speck with no power to make changes. I wish this book had given specific insight on what the little people can do at home. I think a lot of people would make changes for the benefit of our environment if they knew what to do. .

  9. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    At the moment, this is feeling like a good follow-up to Mary Pipher's Greenboat from earlier this year. McKibben's writing is a little breezier than I'd prefer on some topics but he takes the subject of the fight against the Keystone pipeline to the next level, and actively sets out in the book to think about ways that global-level activism can intersect and support a dedication to local living and local economies.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    I dislike activism. Even if it's in support of causes I want to see succeed, activism is deeply intertwined with conflict and politics, not to mention the public eye and crowds, and those things bother me. Well, that's the point, as well as the value offered, in Oil and Honey. Bill McKibben explains how someone who enjoys wandering in the Vermont woods goes from being a writer to an educator to an activist. Some takeaways: -What does game theory offer here? I ask b/c I think people dislike the gam I dislike activism. Even if it's in support of causes I want to see succeed, activism is deeply intertwined with conflict and politics, not to mention the public eye and crowds, and those things bother me. Well, that's the point, as well as the value offered, in Oil and Honey. Bill McKibben explains how someone who enjoys wandering in the Vermont woods goes from being a writer to an educator to an activist. Some takeaways: -What does game theory offer here? I ask b/c I think people dislike the game of activism, especially the other players. "Why can't people just change at the margin?" or "Why can't the oil companies just become energy companies?" The easiest marginal change is to become a vegetarian, which just 5% of Americans do. McKibben at one point explains that the oil companies have promised to make this transition but did not follow through. In response, his listener basically shrugs, saying again that he dislikes fighting. In Everybody Lies, Stephens-Davidowitz argues that only arousing curiosity seems to break through a person's priors, and yet just starting with that knowledge turns every interaction into a calculation. -The "honey" in the title refers to McKibben's buying into a bee farm. Every one of these scenes is hokey, but it also seems to ground him in the local environment even as he is engaging with national politics. I often think of that article about the guy who decided to stop reading the news and who instead worked on restoring some land. -There is very little room for ironic style in this work. As much as I appreciate irony, I wonder if its limits are highlighted here. Political wonks often discuss politics from an ironic vantage point. And even I find people who discuss climate change too earnestly annoying. (More thought needed.) -The first part of every battle seems to be working against stereotypes. At one point, McKibben organizes a sort of sit in that will end with arrests. McKibben advises everyone to dress in their Sunday best so as to avoid looking like, well, stereotypical hippie greens. -In this work, which goes from Hurricane Irene to Superstorm Sandy (neither of which I remember fondly), McKibben goes from organizing a protest to organizing a nationwide series of protests to organizing divestment campaigns. Much of McKibben's efforts at this time were directed at blocking the Keystone Pipeline, which President Trump would go on to permit almost immediately after taking office. 350.org claims that institutions have pledged to divest to the tune of US$11 trillion (found on Wikipedia). Readers who aren't interested in the memoir of activism but who are interested in the climate change content can find the crux of McKibben's argument from this time in a Rolling Stone essay entitled "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math."

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kurt

    Bill McKibben made a name for himself as a journalistic writer covering environmental and cultural issues. In Oil And Honey he describes his unlikely transformation into the leader of a very successful activist organization. In parallel with that story is the story of his adoption and promotion of simple agrarian ways of life such as his recent avocation of beekeeping. Surely the best kept secret in the U.S. today is the wonderful way of life that's possible with full-time farming on a small plac Bill McKibben made a name for himself as a journalistic writer covering environmental and cultural issues. In Oil And Honey he describes his unlikely transformation into the leader of a very successful activist organization. In parallel with that story is the story of his adoption and promotion of simple agrarian ways of life such as his recent avocation of beekeeping. Surely the best kept secret in the U.S. today is the wonderful way of life that's possible with full-time farming on a small place. If more people understood the opportunities for faith, freedom, responsibility, health, and education that good farming can provide, our rural areas might be repopulated and the self-destructive course of our society reversed. This timeless activity is so much more than just a way of making a living – it is in fact the Middle Path described in the Buddha's teachings and the object of St. Thomas's words: The kingdom of heaven surrounds you, but you see it not. But the real focus of this book is the change that our modern industrial world wreaks upon our atmosphere. Carbon emissions keep soaring as do the resultant concentrations of greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, rather than actually taking action on this serious threat, our “leaders” have succumbed to donations from the fossil fuel industry, which has managed to turn one of our two political parties into climate-change deniers and the other party into cowards. This industry wants to dangerously alter the chemical composition of earth's atmosphere all for the sake of adding to their already massive profits. Through its well-funded propaganda campaign of misinformation it has also managed to label as radicals all of us who simply want to maintain earth's atmosphere at something similar to what it has been throughout the entire history of human civilization. Seems to me that they are the real radicals and we are the conservatives -- because we desire to conserve the state of our precious atmosphere. You can have a healthy fossil fuel balance sheet, or you can have a relatively healthy biosphere. But now that we understand the science and the numbers, we know that we can not have both. It is our children and grandchildren who will bear the brunt of the effects of our insanely consumptive ways. I for one want my descendents to know that I took a stand against it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    Not so much amazing in itself, although it's very good, very easy to read given the dire topic. More amazing is the effect I find it having on me in wanting to get more serious about working on climate change issues than I have been to date. I particularly admired the way McKibben uses his intelligence to figure out what works in this effort, rather than adopting some familiar activist methods and just sticking with them whether or not they're being effective. Was especially struck at his analys Not so much amazing in itself, although it's very good, very easy to read given the dire topic. More amazing is the effect I find it having on me in wanting to get more serious about working on climate change issues than I have been to date. I particularly admired the way McKibben uses his intelligence to figure out what works in this effort, rather than adopting some familiar activist methods and just sticking with them whether or not they're being effective. Was especially struck at his analysis of what a tar baby politics is (especially apt metaphor in this day and age!), where the polarization we're all experiencing undermines how effective you can be as a citizen/cause group and you just become another pawn in someone else's game. So where the book left off he was realizing what matters is to follow the money, to work for to make it economic sense for fossil fuel giants to diversify into renewable, sustainable fuel sources. He makes it possible to read about the dire and overwhelming situation we're in where global warming is concerned by taking the reader back and forth between his reluctant activism and his refuge with a beekeeper friend and colleague moving (brilliantly and with interesting successes) towards sustainable ways of keeping and propagating bees. From that source come lovely metaphors, including my favorite about how oil corporations can be like individual bees on a mission, who have a simple goal and a one-track mind: get the pollen in one case, make money in the other - with no attention paid whatsoever to other issues. Like whether or not they might be ruining the planet in the process. So it's not necessary to revile corporate leaders as evil greedy u-no-whats. If it makes sense to make money by diversifying into renewable energy sources - that's where they'll go. And citizens can help nudge them in that direction and shape that behavior by divesting from fossil fuel companies in their portfolios. The organization McKibben founded - 350.org - is aiming to do that on an institutional scale - which makes a lot of sense - but I'm wondering if there isn't a role for individual investors too, especially those in the baby boomer generation with retirement investment nest eggs to work with? Hmm. Pondering that one!!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    As with his last two books (and others, undoubtedly) this is an essential book for anyone that doesn't want to stick his or her head in the sand regarding global warming. It's an impassioned account of McKibben's transformation into a relatively full time activist, which he parallels with the life of a beekeeper friend who lives independent of the techie social media that consumes McKibben's activist hours. Given that he's been warning us all about global warming since 1989, McKibben would certa As with his last two books (and others, undoubtedly) this is an essential book for anyone that doesn't want to stick his or her head in the sand regarding global warming. It's an impassioned account of McKibben's transformation into a relatively full time activist, which he parallels with the life of a beekeeper friend who lives independent of the techie social media that consumes McKibben's activist hours. Given that he's been warning us all about global warming since 1989, McKibben would certainly seem entitled to be burned out on humanity's stupidity but somehow he just keeps going. For him, being a parent seems to help harden his commitment to not give up. Here's a beautiful passage that is representative of the work: "We'd seen damage everywhere we'd gone—the ocean off Puget Sound too acidic for oysters, the ruined beach towns of the Jersey Shore, the sere droughty farmland of the West, even the smoke from those bizarre lingering Colorado fires. But it was still so beautiful, still so worth saving from the radical simplifiers of the fossil fuel industry who were crashing a million years of evolved gorgeousness and meaning into a homogenized layer of hot, bare, broken planet. "

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Papuga

    I'm definitely in the minority with my seminar group who dislikes this book. I can't really say why but it just didn't get me excited. Although the honey parts were interesting I just couldn't grasp the connection between those parts and the fight against climate change. I did enjoy some of the metaphors used, like both bees and corporations being simple, only good at one thing, but these metaphors weren't enough to carry the book for me. The book was about McKibben's rise to activism, but did n I'm definitely in the minority with my seminar group who dislikes this book. I can't really say why but it just didn't get me excited. Although the honey parts were interesting I just couldn't grasp the connection between those parts and the fight against climate change. I did enjoy some of the metaphors used, like both bees and corporations being simple, only good at one thing, but these metaphors weren't enough to carry the book for me. The book was about McKibben's rise to activism, but did not really inspire me to join in civil disobedience or act in any way. It does seem like so much of the fight is uphill and the battles that are won are not enough. I did like the shift in the latter half of the book to divestment and bringing the fight to the fossil fuel companies, rather than protesting a single pipeline as that appears to get to the heart of the climate issue. Overall Mckibben's stream of consciousness style of writing did not keep me engaged. However, this book doesn't seem as in your face as other books such as Klein's This Changes Everything. This might be a book that the average person can pick up and understand the necessity to fight against climate change.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Florence Millo

    I especially enjoyed reading this book after having read Eaarth which was so depressing that I was about to slit my wrists. In this book, he gives an account of how he ended up leading 350.org to become a real force to be reckoned with in the fight against climate change. The emotional ups and downs and the uncertainty of how to be effective in the political arena and in doing battle with big oil gives him a more human face. I enjoyed very much his interactions with bees and beekeeping. Can't sa I especially enjoyed reading this book after having read Eaarth which was so depressing that I was about to slit my wrists. In this book, he gives an account of how he ended up leading 350.org to become a real force to be reckoned with in the fight against climate change. The emotional ups and downs and the uncertainty of how to be effective in the political arena and in doing battle with big oil gives him a more human face. I enjoyed very much his interactions with bees and beekeeping. Can't say that I learned a whole lot from the book but it was a good read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    This is the 3rd McKibben book I've listened to, and it's by far my least favorite. There was way too much about McKibben, much of it larded with an irritating "aw shucks, how did li'l ol' me get to be such a great big celebrity" false modesty. I liked the parts devoted to his bee-keeping pal more - mostly because I learned quite a bit about bees and honey. McKibben is still a good writer, but - like many people who've been successful - he needs a stricter editor. And, as his life has evolved, he This is the 3rd McKibben book I've listened to, and it's by far my least favorite. There was way too much about McKibben, much of it larded with an irritating "aw shucks, how did li'l ol' me get to be such a great big celebrity" false modesty. I liked the parts devoted to his bee-keeping pal more - mostly because I learned quite a bit about bees and honey. McKibben is still a good writer, but - like many people who've been successful - he needs a stricter editor. And, as his life has evolved, he might do well to reconsider his style and adapt it for who he is now.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Malcolm

    A fascinating and important book. Although the juxtaposition of the local (beekeeping) with the global (climate change) was a little bit forced at times, the writing was good enough to overcome this and it generally added to the flow of the narrative. And what a powerful message he delivers about Big Oil and how it will wreck the planet if left unchecked. This was the first book I've read by this author but it makes me want to search out more.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Monique Stevens

    Bravo! I learned so much. Thank you for raising my awareness of what's at stake.

  19. 5 out of 5

    EJR

    Serious issue. We have to protect our planet and keep it safe and we are doing a horrible job.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ilib4kids

    363.70092 MCK eAudio Summary: it is a kind of memoir about keystone pipeline fight(global warming deniers backed by oil companies, like Koch brother, Exxon, Chevron, and also U.S Chamber of Commerce which take huge money from oil industry) and rise of fossil fuel divestment movement, along with story Kirk Webster (his honey sell to BeeUntoOther.com), his new way of raising untreated bees, without chemicals, possible new way living in small farms. As he said in a magazine called Small Farmer's Jou 363.70092 MCK eAudio Summary: it is a kind of memoir about keystone pipeline fight(global warming deniers backed by oil companies, like Koch brother, Exxon, Chevron, and also U.S Chamber of Commerce which take huge money from oil industry) and rise of fossil fuel divestment movement, along with story Kirk Webster (his honey sell to BeeUntoOther.com), his new way of raising untreated bees, without chemicals, possible new way living in small farms. As he said in a magazine called Small Farmer's Journal , p2 "Surely the best kept secret in the U.S today is the wonderful way of life that's possible with full-time farming on a small place. If more people understood the opportunities for faith, freedom, responsibilities, health and education that good farming can provide, our rural areas might be repopulated and the self-destructive course of our society reversed. This timeless activities is so much than just a way of making a living - it is in fact the Middle Path described in the Buddha's teaching and the object of St. Thomas's words: "the kingdom of heaven surrounds you, but you see it not". p240 Topic of meditation A Still Forest Pool: The Insight Meditation of Achaan Chah by Ajahn Chah The Experience of Insight: A Simple & Direct Guide to Buddhist Meditation by Joseph Goldstein (Kirk said ) "that is not a way to make yourself feel better, but a way to know things about yourself. .. But one of my insights is that the way I live is a little like being on a retreat all the time. " Indeed, he doesn't do much formal sitting anymore. "When I was, the meditation was like an island in me. It occupied a niche. But eventually it grew, it spread to the other part of my life. And it felt like those other parts of my life become a more powerful form of meditation.". " I never get bored. The purpose of meditation, I think, is to able to see the incredible beauty of life in every little aspect of it - so boredom is not my problem. My problem is not being overwhelmed by the amazing beauty of the world. .. The point is, it is not my schedule. (Farming)It s the schedule of living things, what they need." This is not "farming" in the modern sense, of course; it's farming in an older way of looking at things. "I like the way of Japanese farmer and writer Masanobu Fukuoka put it, Farming is the cultivation of better human being. In another sense, there's really one measure of good farming, and that's to leave the land better than you found it. If what your're doing is leaving the land more fertile, that's a pretty good guide for being a better being. But it's so completely foreign to our culture idea of using up resources, of mining the world and moving on to the next place, the next thing, of moving on to find more. It's this culture that Kirk, at some early point,decided to keep at bay - the one that seemed too confusing, too out of control... The one depends on more, on faster, on ambition, on a kind of generalized horniness for accumulation and sensation and novelty, novelty, novelty - novelty being the stock in trade especially of Internet., the idea that at every second something new might be filtering into your in-box or onto Twitter, that something new might be showing up on YouTube or attaching itself to your FaceBook timeline. And so he's kept it out, and concentrated on what was important. And that clam has come at a cost in companionship. A high cost. "With most people, I feel like they'd bring in some of that craziness from the outside world," he said. " I mean, I've made a choice not to pursue material things, or recognition, or to try to fit in because everyone else was fitting in. And those are difficult things for people to do. I think most people in society are oriented around those things even if they don't want to. And I've got no desire to impose my sense on others." --- my comment: spiritual life is lonely life. For us to survive now we really have to put other livings ahead of ourselves. . That goes back to meditation, to the idea that we're not really a self, that we're connected to the world in so many ways. Since everything is connected, maybe that's why I can live on my own. Because my life makes sense to me, because it adds up. Founder of 350.org 350.org (carbon dioxide rose above 350 parts per million, we couldn't have a planet "similar to the one which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted." Fossil fuel divestment: the removal of investment assets including stocks, bonds, and investment funds from companies involved in extracting fossil fuels. Campaign finance related information on the fossil fuel industry DirtyEnergyMoney.com OpenSecrets.org WWOOF:World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or Willing Workers on Organic Farms. Watts Up With That? (or WUWT) is a blog promoting climate change denial that was created by Anthony Watts in 2006. Parting the Waters, America in the King Years, 1954-1963 Pillar of FirePillar of Fire, America in the King Years, 1963-65 At Canaan's Edge, America in the King Years, 1965-68 By Branch, Taylor - could be handbook for organizers p103 A Corporation, far more wonderful in its abilities to excuse a plan than any of individual, is nonetheless uncomplicated. It doesn't care much about the past and can't think very far in the future. If it does, its shareholders will rebel. It's less than a person than like a bee, at least in this regard. Given the power of speech like a human (my word: it refer Corporation in Law treat like a person), it won't use it to reflect, to check itself, or to think about the large good. It will simply put this new power to work on it single-mined goal of amassing wealth, just as, the Koch brothers did, sublimely unconcerned that their tar sands investments were threatening the planet. use three numbers again fossil companies: 2, 565, 2,795 2: 2 degree Celsius, the number suggested by a German panel in 1995, a meeting chaired by Angela Merkel. So far, we raised the temperature by 0.8 degree Celsius. By computer model, if we stop increasing carbon dioxide now, temperate will still climb up another 0.8 degree. 565 gigatons. carbon dioxide can be poured in the air if we hope reasonable staying below two degree. but reasonable is better explained as no one know. 2,795 gigatons, the amount of carbon already contain in the proven coal, oil, and gas reserves of the fossil fuels. 5 times higher. Why companies still want to pump out oil? here is explanation. p148 this coal and gas and oil is still physically in the soil. But it's already economically aboveground- its figured into share prices, companies are borrowing money against it, nations are basing their budgets on the presumed returns from their patrimony. It explains why the big fossils fuel compares have fought so hard and so defectively to prevent the regulation of carbon dioxide - those reserves are their assets, the holding that give their companies their value .. The value of ExxonMobil, is more or less, the value of those reserves... a research report from the world's second largest bank, HSBC, showed that such a restriction would cut its stock price in half. The financial analyst John Fullerton.. tried to put a number on it. He calculate, those 2,795 gigatons equals about $28 trillion. Which is to say, if you paid attention to the scientists and keep 80% of it underground, you'd be writing off more than $20 trillion of assets, much of it belonging to the richest people on earth. .. (Contortion ) like automatons, - admirably efficient because they're driven by pure profit. see more on article on Global Warming's Terrifying New Math - Rolling Stone in 2012 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010), is a landmark U.S. constitutional law, campaign finance, and corporate law case dealing with regulation of political campaign spending by organizations. The United States Supreme Court held (5–4) on January 21, 2010 that the free speech clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the government from restricting independent expenditures for communications by nonprofit corporations, for-profit corporations, labor unions, and other associations. One thing I learn from this book is why we have more damage and frequent hurricane ? Because as the climate become warm, the warm air can absorb more moisture, which lead heavy rain, etc. Honeybee Democracy by Thomas D. Seeley The Wisdom of the Hive: The Social Physiology of Honey Bee Colonies by Thomas D. Seeley The Monkey Wrench Gang (novel) by Edward Abbey ( inspire Earth First! ) bumper crop n.丰收; silver lining.(失望或不幸中的)一线希望[一点慰藉]; Locavore Buckeye State: The state of Ohio named the Buckeye State after a tree that produces nuts similar to chestnuts fracking: the process of injecting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks, boreholes, etc., so as to force open existing fissures and extract oil or gas. Anti-fracking.see more 2010 Oscar-nominated documentarym "Gasland" by Josh Fox Ides of March:The Ides of March is a day on the Roman calendar that corresponds to 15 March. It was marked by several religious observances and was notable for the Romans as a deadline for settling debts The quilting bee: was an extremely popular social event in the mid nineteenth century. The quilting bee provided a social space for women to gather and gossip while they simultaneously expressed their artistic capabilities. Husking bees: social gathering.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Phil

    This is the first time I have read McKibben and to tell the truth two chapters into the book I was almost ready to put the book down and move on. He starts out about writing about Kirk who is a bee farmer who he befriends and eventually goes into business with. He then moves to his own story of moving away from being a solitary writer to becoming an activist in opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline. I was finding it hard to see how these two story lines were going to successfully intersect even This is the first time I have read McKibben and to tell the truth two chapters into the book I was almost ready to put the book down and move on. He starts out about writing about Kirk who is a bee farmer who he befriends and eventually goes into business with. He then moves to his own story of moving away from being a solitary writer to becoming an activist in opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline. I was finding it hard to see how these two story lines were going to successfully intersect even though the title of the books was “Oil & Honey.” Another reason was his strong criticism of President Obama who I admit I am guilty of hero worship though I know better than to do so. As you age, you realize you do not have the time left to read bad books. There can be no wasting of time anymore. I decided to give it one more chapter. Am I ever so glad I did. This is not only a great book and great story, it is an important book. In a few short pages, McKibben provided me with an understanding of global warming I never had. I realize now, I only had a smidgen of knowledge on the subject. Often the charts on warming and effects confused me at the best and frustrated me at the most. I just did not get it enough to really be able to explain much less argue about it. Now, I do understand. I got it. The picture is clear and it’s not pretty. Here’s the picture pure and simple. A Celsius two degree rise in temperature will result in a world we would not recognize and the effect of such a temperature rise would be catastrophic. Ironically this number is the only number all the nations of the world are in agreement on. We are now at .80 temperature rise and the effects are becoming alarmingly clear 2 might have been too large of a number to use. But he suggests we stay with the 2 for now. In order not to rise above the 2 degrees, the world cannot input into the atmosphere more than 565 additional gigatons of carbon dioxide. You have to stay under that number to not exceed the 2 degrees rise. And here is the problem. The oil companies right now have out of the ground ready to sell and burn 2795 gigatons of carbon. This is their key to the billions and billions of dollars they have. They have to see and burn this in order to stay wealthy corporations. Their stockholders expect and demand they do so. The Supreme Court might think that corporations are people but when it comes to corporate profits they are not. They do not consider ill effects or forecast dire consequences of their actions. They are not humans who consider the morality of their actions. They are built to make a profit and that’s what they damn well are going to do. If the Keystone Pipeline goes through James Hanson, the finest climatologist there is says, “Game over.” As the book begins, President Obama who has opened more public land to drilling and exploration than any other President was leaning toward (as was his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) to sign off on it. Enter Bill McKibben and the organization he and others formed, 350.org. Half of the book is about their successful fight to stand against the most powerful corporations on earth who have bought more congressmen and senators that to find one or two who will not accept money from them is almost impossible to find. What they choose first to do is get arrested and then it moves on from their. Again and again the pipeline looks like a sure thing and then 350.org steps in, pulls out the stops and somehow manages to get the decision postponed. Thousands of miles of pipe has already been delivered. Just as many miles of right of way have already been mowed just waiting for the authorization. The story of how McKibben and 350.org is a wonderful and exciting story in itself. But like I said, there’s another part of this book. It’s about Kirk the bee farmer and here is where the book goes from thriller to be imbued with a rare form of humanity. I know an awful lot about bees now. I know how they pick a place for a hive when they swarm sending out hundreds of scouts miles away and receiving reports from all of them with the whole swarm watching until only one scout is doing it “report dance” after which the swarm follows it. Against all odds Kirk learns about his bees, what they want and what they need. The bees enemies are mites, viruses, bears and ill sprayed chemicals on adjacent lands. He fights all these enemies of the bees without the use of a single chemical. On a small parcel of land McKibben bought for him and the use of others land for payment with honey, Kirk grosses yearly around $50,000 which is enough to sustain his bachelorhood existence without any attachment to the internet or social interaction with the outside world other than the occasional county and state fair. He has written numerous scholarly articles on his techniques and discoveries and is known in the bee world as a leading expert which draw people for far and wide to visit and discourse with him. A most charming episode is when two teenage Amish lads bicycle to his place to learn the way he has made bee keeping into a business that sustains itself in order to go back and convince the Amish elders bee keeping is more than a hobby. Kirk’s place is McKibben’s place to retreat when he is mentally and physically exhausted from the fight. For two or three days he works beside Kirk at the bee keeping chores though he is deadly afraid of being stung. One day McKibben asked Kirk if he regretted living alone. Kirk answered him that at times it did but not so much any more. “I was afraid if I did let someone in they would bring with them the world’s crazy culture.” Again and again McKibben and friends go after the oil and gas companies. Instead of trying to convince politicians who have all been bought and paid for they eventually began to direct their attack at the companies themselves showing the world what they are and what they are capable of doing and inch by inch they began to win. The efforts themselves are beautiful to behold. And all the time McKibben was on the front line fighting, getting arrested, being attacked unmercifully, suffering through his daughter’s operation for a stomach tumor and his own physical exhaustion in his mind was the memory of the hum of bees and a place of sanity in an absolutely insane world.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gaylord Dold

    McKibben, Bill. Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist, Times Books (Henry Holt and Company), New York, 2013 (272pp. $26) Independent science confirms that human-caused global warming is real. There is reason to believe that a warming climate could have dire consequences, among which are rising ocean levels, increased human disease, great droughts and even greater storms, the destruction of agricultural productivity, desertification of large parts of North America, Africa and central McKibben, Bill. Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist, Times Books (Henry Holt and Company), New York, 2013 (272pp. $26) Independent science confirms that human-caused global warming is real. There is reason to believe that a warming climate could have dire consequences, among which are rising ocean levels, increased human disease, great droughts and even greater storms, the destruction of agricultural productivity, desertification of large parts of North America, Africa and central Asia, and animal extinctions. Global warming is the direct result of mankind’s addiction to fossil fuels. When burned they release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which acts as an insulator, keeping in heat which would ordinarily radiate or reflect away from the earth. There is now no doubt that our highly industrialized, urban, commercial and ultra-competitive lives are irrational. Bill McKibben’s new book, Oil and Honey, undertakes to answer a number of personal, political and moral questions that we all should be asking in these depressing times. McKibben is the author of The End of Nature, a chronicle of our species’ increasing alienation from the natural world, a book which stands alongside Silent Spring as a call to action and a warning. In a dozen books McKibben has investigated industrial mono-culture agriculture, individual environmental stewardship, and population issues, and most recently the nature of our own capitalist approach to economic activity. He is the founder of the environmental organization 350.org., a non-profit fighting the influence of the mega-fossil-fuel industry by warning of the dangers of global warming. Oil and Honey recounts a personal crisis McKibben underwent during 2011, when record drought on most of the North American continent combined with record Arctic melting and a record hurricane Irene scouring the Atlantic, to scourge the country. McKibben realized that something more than books is needed if the powerful forces of the oil and gas industry and its political allies and surfs in Washington were to be confronted and overcome. As a writer and “rural Methodist”, activism did not come naturally to McKibben, though he was used to public speaking. And so it was in the summer of 2011 that McKibben found himself in handcuffs behind bars, having led the largest civil disobedience protest (against the XL pipeline) in thirty years. More than twelve hundred demonstrators went to jail with him as the fight for a sustainable economy was elevated to public consciousness. Part of Oil and Honey recounts McKibben’s many travels and travails as a newly minted activist. From picket lines and arenas to universities and town halls, McKibben takes the fight to the people, a gutsy and exhausting battle that took place against the backdrop of a heated presidential debate in 2012. At the same time, McKibben partnered with Vermont natural beekeeper Kirk Webster, an innovative non-chemical agriculturalist, to produce natural honey for local consumption in the face of what has become a plague of chemically adulterated Chinese commercial honey. McKibben’s book is thus the chronicle of two sides of the environmental battle---the intensely personal and local which centers on individual responsibility and humility, and the national and political, which hinges on mass movements, logistics, and existential solidarity. And in this political battle, who are the radicals? Well, McKibben answers, the radicals are at the executives at oil, coal, and gas companies who are willing to alter the chemical composition of the atmosphere to make money. No one has ever done anything more radical than that. Realize for example that the Alberta Tar Sands are large deposits of bitumen (heavy crude oil) covering 54,000 square miles of boreal forest and peat bog in northeastern Alberta. By open pit mining and steam-assisted gravity stimulation methods, a consortium of companies has destroyed the landscape, burned natural gas to process its product, and used untold quantities of fresh water in the process. The region is a vile moonscape where birds and fish have suffered death in untold numbers and the Athabasca River is a slough of toxic chemicals. If we burn all the fuel in these sands, world temperatures will continue to rise. And restoration, though decreed by law, is hardly possible. In our own country, hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and mountain-shearing coal mining in the Appalachians are equally destructive. These days the cards are stacked against the planet. During the 2012 elections—and as a direct result of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, the US Chamber of Commerce outspent both the Democratic and Republican parties to elect candidates who were on record as climate change deniers. One week before the elections, Chevron made the largest political contribution of the post-Citizens United era in an effort to ensure the election of a House of Representatives responsive to its own interests. The Koch hydrocarbon empire engages in costly efforts to directly affect elections and legislative initiatives in many states and to control the politics of our own. Whether we citizens as individual human beings can alter our fate is unknown. Political action, civil disobedience, divestment movements, recycling, local food movements and public demonstration will all be required. Maybe when Bill McKibben comes to Wichita on September 28 for a reading at Watermark Books we can promise each other to fight against the forces of waste, profligacy and pride that represent the darkest elements of our human nature.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Radiantflux

    Fourth book for 2016. In this quick easy read McKibben tells two narratives, one how he set-up the highly successful global environmental activist group 350.org, and in the other his ongoing relationship to a neighbouring beekeeper in Vermont. So this the book is literally structured around the old environmental adage of "thinking local and acting global". How well this works is partly a matter of taste. Personally I liked his forays back into beekeeping as these seemed like the most real and pas Fourth book for 2016. In this quick easy read McKibben tells two narratives, one how he set-up the highly successful global environmental activist group 350.org, and in the other his ongoing relationship to a neighbouring beekeeper in Vermont. So this the book is literally structured around the old environmental adage of "thinking local and acting global". How well this works is partly a matter of taste. Personally I liked his forays back into beekeeping as these seemed like the most real and passionate sections of the book. At the same time I didn't find his attempts to find metaphors between bee behavior and activist organizing very convincing. And while I find 350.org fascinating as a modern and effective environmental organization, I am disappointed that having finished the book I still know very little about 350.org itself: I have no idea how it's structured, how its decision processes work, who its main players are other than McKibben, what it has done outside the US etc. This is because this is a very personal narrative centered completely around McKibben who (apparently) is constantly making (in a very casual way) suggestions that eventually end-up being major events within (and outside) the organization. McKibben says (casually) why don't we hold hands around the White House over noodles and suddenly a few months later thousands of activists are holding hands around the White House; McKibben (casually) suggests people leave the Rio Summit in disgust and suddenly everyone is handing in their official registration and waking out etc. Coupled with this is a tiring sense throughout that McKibben is name dropping; he even at one point says his bus driver used to drive Johnny Cash. One reported event struck me as totally false: 350.org had planned to melt a the words "HOAX" written in ice outside the Capitol building during a particularly brutal heatwave. At the very last minute, after they had collected $1000s from supporters, the event it was canceled. McKibben claims that this was because he had an email from a guy in Appalachia stating that seeing ice melt on TV would be too distressing to people suffering through the heat wave. This makes no sense. Really no sense. Yet it is put out as fact in the book, and more over given a positive spin (look how receptive we are to our grassroots). It's a shame as this story really started making me question the rest of the book, and McKibben as a reliable narrator of events. In the end I was left with the impression that the purpose of the book was to spin both McKibben as local cool environmentalist (the honey) and as rockstar activist (the Oil). Whether this spin was intended for the outside world or more for himself I am not really sure. Naomi Klein's far better This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, covers many of the same events in a far richer and more interesting fashion.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    America has half as many farmers as prisoners. Half. This is one of the startling facts I learned while listening to Bill McKibben's Oil and Honey.  I didn't know too much about this book before I picked it out. I knew it was about the environment and that I had been meaning to read it for a few years. It takes place over several years, but begins just about the time that I was starting university. I majored in environmental studies/science, so it was particularly interesting to me to review major America has half as many farmers as prisoners. Half. This is one of the startling facts I learned while listening to Bill McKibben's Oil and Honey.  I didn't know too much about this book before I picked it out. I knew it was about the environment and that I had been meaning to read it for a few years. It takes place over several years, but begins just about the time that I was starting university. I majored in environmental studies/science, so it was particularly interesting to me to review major environmental movements that were taking place as I was learning the foundations at school. A sad fact that McKibben repeats often is that environmental victories are always temporary. Nothing is ever defeated permanently, just put off for awhile. The fight never ends. And environmentalists seem to be on the losing side more often than not. This is why it is so exhausting to be an environmental rights activist, or even just someone who cares. The fight goes on and on, and unfortunately, big money is not on "our" side. For example, in 2010, the Keystone XL pipeline was on the main stage in the run-up to the 2012 Presidential election. Considerable pressure was on Obama to approve it and McKibben was one of the key activists trying to activate a grassroots response that would threaten Obama's re-election if he did approve the pipeline. Today, in 2019, this pipeline is still an ongoing battle in Canada. The fights goes on. Listening to this book took longer than I expected. It has been a while since I listened to something environmentally focused, and I forgot how angry these issues make me. How exhausting the failures can be when they add up. And the victories feel few and far between. I couldn't listen before bed - it made me too frustrated to sleep - so I had to pick and choose the moments that I would listen. I will say, something helpful I learned is the process of arrest at a political demonstration. That was reassuring in case I am ever in a similar situation. And humorous in a dark sort of way. Climate change is global. Environmental disaster has zero respect for political borders. These issues are universal. However, most of the direct issues that are taken up in this book are based in America or Canada, so I believe that residents of these two countries will get the most out of it. Alberta's tar sands are one of the biggest environmental disasters in the world. They are barely tapped, and already more earth has been moved than was moved in the construction of all the mega-dams in the world. That is insane. One of my favourite quotes from Oil and Honey, comes from McKibben's account of the Keystone protests outside the White House. While in jail, he reported "we don't need sympathy, we need company".  Narrator Kevin Collins has a smooth, relaxing voice that made the book pleasant to listen to, even if the topics were difficult to get through at times. I am planning on watching McKibben's interviews on The Colbert Report and his Ted Talk now. You can learn more on the website, 350.org.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Maryc

    I really enjoyed this book twining two sides of Bill McKibben's life; home in rural Vermont helping his beekeeper friend, Kirk, and zooming around the country (and globe) to build movements to combat the fossil fueled destruction of our planet, as ambassador for his organization 350.org. This book takes place during the big Keystone fight and as we battle it's replacement, the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), it emphasizes Bill's frequent refrain that environmental wins are only temporary. It is v I really enjoyed this book twining two sides of Bill McKibben's life; home in rural Vermont helping his beekeeper friend, Kirk, and zooming around the country (and globe) to build movements to combat the fossil fueled destruction of our planet, as ambassador for his organization 350.org. This book takes place during the big Keystone fight and as we battle it's replacement, the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), it emphasizes Bill's frequent refrain that environmental wins are only temporary. It is very engaging and ties the record breaking weather patterns, the droughts, the hurricanes, floods, and forest fires to the leading edge of climate change. Despite all of the evidence, fossil fuel conglomerates spend hundreds of millions on false front foundations to spew fake studies to create doubt about climate change as well as many millions more on buying congressional favors to avoid the huge shift that needs to happen to save life on Earth. The reality is that the 2 degrees celsius target is probably too high to save us from disaster. Based on the 2 degree target it has been calculated by many studies that we have approximately 565 gigatons of carbon left to pour into our atmosphere by midcentury with any hope at all of staying below the threshold. That equates to about 15 years of output at current levels (circa 2013). With this in mind it is important to understand that proven coal, oil and gas reserves amount to 2795 gigatons!!! In other words, the "assets" of these fossil fuel bastards is FIVE TIMES MORE than we can afford to burn!!! Meanwhile we are bending over backwards to frack dirty Bakken Oil and speed filthy Canadian tar sands oil to export markets, and keep subsidizing these corporations for further exploration and exploitation. ***Let me repeat, we need to keep 80% of current reserves in the ground to save the planet.***For investors this means that fossil fuel stock prices are inflated to at least double their real values. ExxonMobile alone spends more than $100,000,000.00 per day on exploration for the sake of keeping share prices falsely inflated. If corporations are people, our jails should be full of these bastards. The book ended with a huge climate rally in Washington D. C. following Obama's second inauguration in February 2012 and the successful divestment campaign at campuses across the nation. I happened to have been at that rally, so I felt even more connected to Bill's efforts. Since then I have been arrested for the first time at the "Mississippi Stand" opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline, have spoken at an Iowa Utilities Board hearing, and have visited Oceti Sakowin/Sacred Stone Camp in North Dakota. People's rights, property rights, and planetary rights continue to be disrespected by the petro-powered interests. I want to be able to say to my children and grandchildren that I cared, that I tried.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    I get the feeling that while McKibben wrote the book to describe the climate change fight against the oil and coal companies that he and several students started, he also was writing to make clear to himself what has happened to his life and how is he taking it. He is really a writer, not an activist, but he has become an activist. While he wasn't entirely comfortable with the change, he seems to have accepted his part in the movement as a leader. (full disclosure: I have heard Bill speak at two I get the feeling that while McKibben wrote the book to describe the climate change fight against the oil and coal companies that he and several students started, he also was writing to make clear to himself what has happened to his life and how is he taking it. He is really a writer, not an activist, but he has become an activist. While he wasn't entirely comfortable with the change, he seems to have accepted his part in the movement as a leader. (full disclosure: I have heard Bill speak at two events now, and I find him amazing.) He shows, though, how he has tried to balance the frenzied life of an activist with working with a man who quietly raises bees and sells honey. All organically. He tells about how his friend has had the courage to refuse to use any chemicals on the bees even with dangers that could wipe out a hive, and he has succeeded. I get the feeling that Bill takes that success as hope that the same will happen with the fight to save the planet as we know it, more or less. He still wants to explain to individuals how they can make a difference, at the same time, he acknowledges that this fight won't be won one solar panel or pipeline at a time. It needs to be much bigger than a single pipeline or solar panel. That is why he and his organization, 350.org, has started a new divestment campaign on American campuses. The movement is to persuade institutions to divest the college investment out of oil and coal companies. This campaign is at the beginning of its fight. I suspect this book was designed in part to explain why they are doing it and why it is actually a good financial idea. There have been several financial people who are beginning to tell their clients to divest from these companies because they are going to go down drastically in price relatively soon and this is being referred to as a carbon bubble. Meaning maybe not this year but possibly this decade. Google the term carbon bubble and you will get a huge number of hits. This concept is really spreading. I don't think the book will turn into a classic of the field. It covers too limited a time span and events. But the author is terribly serious and you do catch his concern that the world the young are going to inherit will be a very different world from the one he grew up in. It is a good popular introduction to climate change. If you want more of the science, read Jim Hansen's book on climate change which I reviewed earlier this year. (possibly last year. If I remember, I'll correct this last sentence!) Bottom line: read it. Then see if your area has a 350.org in the area and join them. Even if you aren't quite into getting arrested (news flash, Bill says it is the one thing that gets easier to do as you age!) you can help in other ways. Because each individual still matters which Bill also realizes.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chris Demer

    Although I had a bit of trouble getting into this book, I am really glad I persisted. It is a (mostly) upbeat memoir of Bill McKibben, a college professor turned environmental activist. The story is biographical, only in the sense that is covers a few years of his activism, specifically against the Keystone Pipeline, and generally against big oil and fossil fuels. Following his travels, organizing, exploits, speeches, arrests, etc, was interesting and entertaining and brings me back to the days Although I had a bit of trouble getting into this book, I am really glad I persisted. It is a (mostly) upbeat memoir of Bill McKibben, a college professor turned environmental activist. The story is biographical, only in the sense that is covers a few years of his activism, specifically against the Keystone Pipeline, and generally against big oil and fossil fuels. Following his travels, organizing, exploits, speeches, arrests, etc, was interesting and entertaining and brings me back to the days of demonstrating against the Vietnam War, the issue of my day. However, it was Bill and his colleagues who had the determination and guts to organize mass demonstrations and get into the politics of the fuel industry and press the issue of the harm coal, oil and gas are doing to the environment-possibly fatal to the planet we know and love, if changes are not made. There were a few great takeaways for me. I loved the way he made analogies with the bees in the hive producing honey and why corporations are NOT people, regardless of Citizens United. One of his good friends is making a living as a small farmer and beekeeper. Bill often talked with him and assisted in maintaining the hives. ( I learned something about bees from this book as well.) When asked at a rally, if corporations were citizens, bill thoughtfully offered this (summarized) bit of philosophy: Corporations aren't bad, but they are simple. They do one thing well. They have the power to organize sources and produce valuable things. But being powerful is not the same thing as being complex. Humans have complicated cravings and desires that drive our behavior-much like bees. but these are tempered by forces outside of ourselves. We have religious beliefs, can remember our ancestors and care about our progeny. We want to be of service to others, We care about the poor, homeless. These qualities make us human. Corporations are single minded, and function in the present. It doesn't reflect of check itself or think about the larger good. It will simply put power to work on a single minded goal of amassing wealth, like the Koch brothers, sublimely unconcerned that tar sands investments are threatening the planet. More like a bee than a person! The author has certainly seen the big picture and has put himself on the line many times over to get the truth through to the public in the face of climate change deniers. He has done amazing work in leadership and organizing and has made a difference in attitudes, gotten issues in the spotlight and laid out the reasons for the urgency of leaving the remaining fossil fuels in the ground before it is too late. I highly recommend this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Esots

    Oil and Honey by Bill McKibben A treatise on living in a global warming world and the rallying cry against fossil fuel. This is a surprisingly human account of the campaign to put climate change squarely on the agenda. Bill McKibben is a journalist and writer and he writes in a flowing conversational style. So you feel like you are with him on that campaign trail. You are on the bus that crosses the country, attending rallies, going to give talks and speeches with the media and all manner of people Oil and Honey by Bill McKibben A treatise on living in a global warming world and the rallying cry against fossil fuel. This is a surprisingly human account of the campaign to put climate change squarely on the agenda. Bill McKibben is a journalist and writer and he writes in a flowing conversational style. So you feel like you are with him on that campaign trail. You are on the bus that crosses the country, attending rallies, going to give talks and speeches with the media and all manner of people. You feel Bill’s pain when he receives ugly threats. You can feel the calm as he finds home base. This account of an accidental activist as he calls himself is mixed with his self-guided retreats to a beekeeper named Kirk. The story of how bees exist is a mirror of the modern world breaking open the natural world with horrible consequences. Chemical overkill and the wipe out of half the bee population. But still there is hope. Hope is a word never written here, but is exposed on every page. We are fighting against the odds, but there is hope. A message that is often submerged in the gloom of the facts on global warming. Yet this story tells of a seemingly motley bunch of people, melded into action by the very real threat to their livelihood, their land, and their home. Our home, our planet. The sense is that the movement does not have all the answers. They make mistakes, but they fight on. The pollination is the thing. Sowing seeds in many hearts and minds. The personal reflections of Bill show a man guided by a love for this creation and the creator. As he reflects that global warming is like Genesis in reverse. There are so many more stories that could be written here. But that is the mark of a good writer, leaving you wanting more. On a broader level I was made to question our way of being. As Bill gently probed his bee keeping neighbour, Kirk, on how he survived day after day, year after year with such a basic existence, devoid of all the usual amenities. He reported he never got bored; there was so much depth in each moment. He followed the seasons. Not the conventional wisdom of days. Thanks for the education Bill, I want to hear more.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    A short, swift memoir of his accidental rise from writer to fulltime activist with 350.org and their battle against climate change and specifically Big Oil. I’ve read McKibben before and am onboard with his view and direction. I’m curious as to why he wrote this book. My guess is to explain how 350 came to be, to further strengthen its mission and mandate in the light of attacks from the climate deniers. And its fine for that, McKibben comes across as, in his words, “an unlikely activist,” motiv A short, swift memoir of his accidental rise from writer to fulltime activist with 350.org and their battle against climate change and specifically Big Oil. I’ve read McKibben before and am onboard with his view and direction. I’m curious as to why he wrote this book. My guess is to explain how 350 came to be, to further strengthen its mission and mandate in the light of attacks from the climate deniers. And its fine for that, McKibben comes across as, in his words, “an unlikely activist,” motivated at first by his increasing concern about climate change and the need to do something, and then as activities begin to achieve success and notoriety, how 350 grows and continues. This isn’t a primer on how to create and organize a multi-national protest movement, for that you’ll have to look elsewhere, but it does describe the personal commitment and energy necessary to move forward. McKibben is honest of his at times ambivalence to his role and his desire to return home for peace and quiet, or what passes for normality for him. The sections of the book I found most interesting were McKibben’s infrequent diversions to visit his friend and neighbour, Kirk Webster, something of a savant beekeeper in McKibben’s home state, Vermont. As a (very) amateur beekeeper myself, I wanted to know more about how Webster raises his bees and equally as interesting, why? McKibben dips into this question in the very final few pages of his book when he poses the question to Webster of why does he do what he does? Why does he live in near isolation? Nothing dramatic is the result, but he does allude to an earlier illness and a subsequent desire for peace and contemplation, a slowing down of the modern world. Again, not pursued in depth by McKibben but I found his lifestyle and philosophy interesting and it left me wanting more. And again, the discussion of beekeeping is not going to inform anyone hoping to get into the field, but was raised as a teaser on how to live, think and work differently.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    In January 2012, wrapped up in layers of clothing as surprising freezing temperatures and ice brought the Dallas Metroplex to a grinding halt, I decided to search for a more “natural” existence, accepting a position living and working in Yellowstone National Park. Two months later, awaiting my departure to Wyoming, Texas was already sweltering in the upper 90’s. I ended up spending most of the next 20 months living in a bubble that is the Yellowstone way of life. All I knew is that I had escaped In January 2012, wrapped up in layers of clothing as surprising freezing temperatures and ice brought the Dallas Metroplex to a grinding halt, I decided to search for a more “natural” existence, accepting a position living and working in Yellowstone National Park. Two months later, awaiting my departure to Wyoming, Texas was already sweltering in the upper 90’s. I ended up spending most of the next 20 months living in a bubble that is the Yellowstone way of life. All I knew is that I had escaped one of the worst summers ever recorded in Texas… little did I realize how much this had to do with climate change! Bill McKibben’s book “Oil and Honey” alarmingly opened my eyes to the increasing dangers of our current trajectory and how much the widespread, devastating natural disasters we hear about every day in the news are connected to global warming. Better yet, he informs and educates the reader of how politics and greed work to support the Big Oil companies’ thirst for more and more profit, all the while decimating the planet and putting millions of lives at risk… right now… and definitely in the future. In between founding 350.org, attending rallies, raising awareness, recruiting activists in 188 countries, getting arrested for civil disobedience and inspiring thousands to use their voice and be heard, Bill finds time to retreat to the world of bees, gaining insight and wisdom to a newer, better, more natural way of doing things. He offers the reader hope amidst all this bad news and stirs the heart with his great passion. This is a great read – I finished in 3 days! I not only recommend the book, I dare say, you can’t afford NOT to read this book. Its message is essential to all of humanity. Trust me, you’ll never look at the weather forecast quite the same way again, and you’ll be hard pressed not to take SOME kind of action afterward.

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