Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben
Times Books, 2007
Who is Bill Mckibben?
Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist who in 2014 was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel.’ His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages; he’s gone on to write a dozen more books. He is a founder of 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized twenty thousand rallies around the world in every country save North Korea, spearheaded the resistance to the Keystone Pipeline, and launched the fast-growing fossil fuel divestment movement.
The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize, and holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities. Foreign Policy named him to their inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers, and the Boston Globe said he was “probably America’s most important environmentalist.”
A former staff writer for the New Yorker, he writes frequently for a wide variety of publications around the world, including the New York Review of Books, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone. He lives in the mountains above Lake Champlain with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, where he spends as much time as possible outdoors . In 2014, biologists honored him by naming a new species of woodland gnat— Megophthalmidia mckibbeni–in his honor. For more information, please visit: www.billmckibben.com
What is this Book about?
If you have already read many books about the dangers facing human beings, but this book is not amount them, I would recommend you to get it as soon as possible. Why did I choose to read The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben? I have never heard about this book before, so the only thing that attracted me to read it is the title. In the title there are two important words or concepts: “community” and “future”. These two concepts are very connected to human beings. Since human question should be treated with more thoughtfulness, this book exposed in a intelligible way how we can solve the problem of climate change. The matter in question discussed in this book is centered on the concept of indefinite growth which is seen as the most by economic system. In most culture and historically, more have been considered as equal to better. The individual behaviors in trying to get their own interest have made others people opulent. The author ideas are first that that the growth is a danger for humanity because it will create insecure condition in the future. The author pointed the environment degradation out caused by this growth as a negative effect on human life. He discussed the concept of the happiness and showed that the growth is not positively link to it. Our desire to get always more and to think that being able to produce a huge quantity of good in the economy is questioned in this book. We are unconsciously our planet by our greedy. The author argued that to save humanity we should reduce the effect of the globalization and the endless economic growth impacting negatively the environment. He supported that we should localize our economy. He thinks that it we must act now consciously in managing the good of our economy in a community.
What is my thought about this book?
This book is one the best that discuss the outcome of some our economic rationality behaviors. It appeals us to start thinking about the community’s economic goals achievement. It explains why our individualism behavior should be abandoned. As you see, the matter in question in this book is very controversial. The author goal in this book is really challenging. It is not easy at all to argue that “more is not better” and to convince people to change their individualism behavior to the community wellbeing. The author supports his argument with some remarkable personal experiences. All of the arguments used are well supported by this author. I think that this book is very intelligible. As I said, I chose to read this book because of the title. After my reading I learned how our world is dramatically worsen by the old conception of economic development. The author recommendation appealing a deep change in the mass production and consumption without control (global) to a small size (local) is very convincing. I am proud of the job done by Bill in treating this challenging question. I especially like his reasoning in the chapter 4. where he discussed the Wealth of the Communities. This passage is from this chapter “Radio is, like food, a large part of most people’s lives: 77 percent of the population listens to radio an average of at least three and a half hours a day, making it very nearly ubiquitous. And like food, radio used to be mostly local, hemmed in by mountains, limited by signal strength”. (pp.211-212).
What is The Mindful World said about this book?
In Deep Economy, McKibben argues against the current neoliberal social order while creating a very approachable prescription for a sustainable society. To McKibben, sustainability rests in a resurgence of community, exemplified by locavorism and public radio movements, which he believes offer true alternatives to the malaise of endless hyper-individualist consumerism. If, in McKibben’s words, the “two birds named ‘More’ and ‘Better’” can no longer perch on the branch they have for centuries, society must slow down and put more energy into our local communities to revitalize the important, immediate bonds that make up a fulfilling, sustainable life. But is depth enough?
A mainstream understanding of economy is rooted in individual choice—we have sustainable “alternatives” rather than a system that is simply sustainable. The dominant logic is that before the Arctic becomes beachfront property, consumers will become enlightened and invest in a sustainable world. But who gets to define “sustainability” in the first place?
McKibben touches on the economic exploitation of global workers while arguing that the world’s poor cannot use the same industrial capitalism used since the 1700s by North America and Europe to achieve a higher standard of living. But he fails to bridge the Western, white, bourgeois understanding of sustainable society to the globally and locally disenfranchised experience, which is based around material lack. As the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen has recently demonstrated, privileged nations have a fundamental inability to understand the experiences of poor nations. Our current global infrastructure, proudly built in the West, is a veritable blueprint for exploitation and unsustainable accumulation. Yet the West’s solutions to climate change ignore a history of Western global exploitation while admonishing poorer nations for attempting to follow in our footsteps. Locally, farmer’s markets and many other supposedly sustainable practices occur within an individualist system with a history of exploitation. Within such systems sustainable goods become luxury goods that are not economically attainable for many. So long as sustainability is defined in a public arena where malls speak louder than parks, sustainability will fail to address the experiences of marginalized people. What is a community where sustainability is for those who can afford it as a lifestyle product? It is unsustainable.
Despite the disjuncture between equity and sustainability, Deep Economy can open eyes to an alternative way of understanding society. It diagnoses our energy use, eating and purchasing habits, and the underlying way that we value things as terminal, but goes well past the gloom and doom. McKibben weaves together the disparate threads of community-driven alternatives to mainstream consumer society into a thoughtful prescription of how we might start to reorganize our lives so that they are less economically, but more socially valuable. Perhaps in time, McKibben’s work will help bring the many experiences of “sustainability” out of the marketplace and into a society-driven discourse.