Tea and Cakes with Bill McKibben

Last Saturday, Fossil Free Oxfordshire had the honour of hosting an event with Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, star of “Do the Math” and tireless climate change campaigner. We hadn’t had much notice that he’d be in Oxford and could spare us some time, so we had thrown ourselves into getting the word out about the event. But, although Facebook said 40 people were coming, you never know whether they’ll show up on the day, even if you’re offering tea and cake! But they did come and seemed to have all brought at least one friend. The Wesley Memorial Hall was packed and at least a hundred people gave Bill a rousing welcome to Oxford.

Bill laid out the case for the urgency of addressing climate change and leaving carbon reserves in the ground. You can see him in action in these videos. The key argument for me was that if the Divestment Movement – hand-in-hand with direct actions that block pipelines and fracking sites – can stave off any further expansion of the fossil fuel in the next few years, then the technological and economic progress in renewables will make our old carbon ways.


Bill McKibben’s audience filled the Wesley Memorial Hall


The most shocking thing I heard was the depth of understanding of climate change that had existed within Exxon, the largest oil company on earth, as long ago as 1977. They had not warned the world or changed their approach to burning carbon – no, they had built their drilling rigs taller, to flood-proof them against a warmer world and laid plans for where in the arctic they could drill, once enough ice had melted. Wow.

Bill is an inspirational speaker – which you will know if you were there or have seen “Do the Math”. Have a look at that video I mentioned. We are delighted that it inspired a whole bunch of people to sign up to help out with the Fossil Free Oxfordshire campaign. We have 40 ticks against actions that people would like to help out with and we have 9 people who’d like to join our campaign team – which is fabulous. The existing team was hugely motivated by spending a little time with Bill and one of us managed to get his copy of Bill’s first book, The End of Nature” autographed. Completely by coincidence, Google reminded us on Saturday morning that it was the third anniversary of registering the fossilfreeoxon@gmail.com email address. So even more appropriate that we had cake.

Please let your County Councillor know that you support divestment from fossil fuels – it is not only ethical but also makes economic sense.


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