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Challenging the prevailing wisdom that the goal of economies should be unlimited growth, McKibben (The End of Nature) argues that the world doesn't have enough natural resources to sustain endless economic expansion. For example, if the Chinese owned cars in the same numbers as Americans, there would be 1.1 billion more vehicles on the road—untenable in a world that is rapidly running out of oil and clean air. Drawing the phrase "deep economy" from the expression "deep ecology," a term environmentalists use to signify new ways of thinking about the environment, he suggests we need to explore new economic ideas. Rather then promoting accelerated cycles of economic expansion—a mindset that has brought the world to the brink of environmental disaster—we should concentrate on creating localized economies: community-scale power systems instead of huge centralized power plants; cohousing communities instead of sprawling suburbs. He gives examples of promising ventures of this type, such as a community-supported farm in Vermont and a community biosphere reserve, or large national park–like area, in Himalayan India, but some of the ideas—local currencies as supplements to national money, for example—seem overly optimistic. Nevertheless, McKibben's proposals for new, less growth-centered ways of thinking about economics are intriguing, and offer hope that change is possible. (Mar. 20)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
"The cult of growth and globalization has seldom been so effectively challenged as by Bill McKibben in Deep Economy. But this bracing tonic of a book also throws the bright light of McKibben's matchless journalism on the vibrant local economies now springing up like mushrooms in the shadow of globalization. Deep Economy fills you with a hope and a sense of fresh possibility."—Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma
"How is our nation going to cope with global warming, peak oil, inequality, and a growing sense of isolation? Bill McKibben provides the simple but brilliant answer the economists have missed—we need to create 'depth' through local interdependence and sustainable use of resources. I will be requiring this inspiring book for my students, and passionately recommending it to everyone else I know."—Juliet Schor, professor of sociology, Boston College, and author of The Overspent American
"Bill McKibben works on the frontiers of new understandings and returns with his startling and lucid revelations of the possible future. A saner human-scale world does exist—just over the horizon—and McKibben introduces us to the people and ideas leading us there."—William Greider, author of The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy
"Masterfully crafted, deeply thoughtful and mind-expanding. . . . An incisive critique of the unintended consequences of our…growth-oriented economy.”—Los Angeles Times
“A hopeful manifesto.”—Boston Globe
"What makes McKibben's book stand out is the completeness of his arguments and his real-world approach to solutions."—USA Today
“McKibben is a fitting prophet… [His] dexterity as a keen observer and stellar wordsmith makes Deep Economy well worth reading.”—The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“Wise and…optimistic.”—The Courier-Journal of Louisville
“McKibben’s proposals for new, less growth-centered ways of thinking about economics are intriguing, and offer hope that change is possible.”—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“[McKibben] ably argues [that] growth has increased inequality and decreased human happiness.”—Kirkus Reviews
The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future
Copyright © 2008 McKibben, Bill
All right reserved.
Excerpted from Deep Economy by McKibben, Bill Copyright © 2008 by McKibben, Bill. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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1. Bill McKibben begins by discussing More and Better. At what point does More stop being Better for you personally? Is your life easier than your parents’ life? Is it happier?
2. Have you been to your local farmers’ market? How is it different from a supermarket? What would your diet look like if you were only able to eat seasonal food grown in your area?
3. How did you react to “The Year of Eating Locally”? What does it prove about local economies in general? Can we stop being dependent on superefficiency and vast factory farms?
4. Though lobbyists have stood in the way of government funding for research on solar and wind power, McKibben provides many examples of successful grassroots campaigns for it. What would it take to get you to put solar panels on your roof? Are there wind farms in your state?
5. What did you discover about the relationship between wealth and global warming? How can you act on McKibben’s distinction between pollution (a symptom of “doing it badly”) and carbon-dioxide emissions (a symptom of “doing too much of something”)?
6. In his recent speeches, McKibben has been saying, “Cheap fossil fuel has made us the first people in the world who have no practical need of our neighbors—and we’re much the sadder for it.” Do you agree?
7. What is harmful about the “individual” mentality described in “All for One, or One for All”? Do most humans want community, or deep down do we prefer independence?
8. How has your job been affected by the drive for productivity? Would you rather be rich or have more time with your family and friends?
9. McKibben’s description of the “economics of neighborliness” describes the rise of radio conglomerates. Has the rise of Clear Channel changed radio programming in your area? What is the impact (environmental, economic, and otherwise) of losing community institutions?
10. What does the Internet produce more of: powerful villages or corporate power?
11. What do you believe the future holds for the world in terms of economics, environmental stability, and general happiness? Could the utopian traits of Kerala become universal?
12. What does Deep Economy add to the portrait of human nature that McKibben produced in his previous books?
Posted November 27, 2009
No text was provided for this review.