Jo Hamilton, Lorne Stockman, Mark Brown et al,'Beyond Oil'

IssueMarch 2005
Review by Marc Hudson

Our wondrous Western Civilisation, with its self-image of progress, rationality and human rights has, over the last hundred years, become a brutal glutton for oil. This much should be obvious to everyone. What isn't so obvious - but is made so in this short and punchy booklet produced by three campaigning groups - is the price paid by western workers, citizens of Majority World countries and the biosphere itself.

It moves swiftly (two pages per topic) through oil and conflict, repressive regimes, oil and development (“The Midas Touch in reverse”) and climate change, to the power of the oil companies, and their penetration of government (“it is less a case of looking for connections than trying to see any separation”). The alarming section on oil companies' capture of key universities underlines the enormous subsidies the hydrocarbon industry receives.

The “what you can do section” is a model of brevity and optimism. The traditional inside back-cover contacts list seems comprehensive but for the curious omission of the Global Commons Institute, proponent of “Contraction and Convergence”. (

The booklet is written in clear and jargon-free sentences, in a logical order with good grammar and punctuation to boot. The authors obviously know exactly what they are talking about, and supply relevant footnotes, usually sending the reader to campaigning or official web-sites.

This is the kind of booklet you could give to your friends who think that your campaigning is just a slightly weird hobby. Its brevity and clarity make it perfect for lobbing over the ghetto wall.

Overall, an essential resource for both individuals and organisations campaigning on issues of climate change and the suicidal insanity of continued hydrocarbon usage.

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