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The bestselling author of The End of Nature issues an impassioned call to arms for an economy that creates community and ennobles our livesIn this powerful and provocative manifesto, Bill McKibben offers the biggest challenge in a generation to the prevailing view of our economy. For the first time in human history, he observes, “more” is no longer synonymous with “better” The bestselling author of The End of Nature issues an impassioned call to arms for an economy that creates community and ennobles our livesIn this powerful and provocative manifesto, Bill McKibben offers the biggest challenge in a generation to the prevailing view of our economy. For the first time in human history, he observes, “more” is no longer synonymous with “better”—indeed, for many of us, they have become almost opposites. McKibben puts forward a new way to think about the things we buy, the food we eat, the energy we use, and the money that pays for it all. Our purchases, he says, need not be at odds with the things we truly value.McKibben’s animating idea is that we need to move beyond “growth” as the paramount economic ideal and pursue prosperity in a more local direction, with cities, suburbs, and regions producing more of their own food, generating more of their own energy, and even creating more of their own culture and entertainment. He shows this concept blossoming around the world with striking results, from the burgeoning economies of India and China to the more mature societies of Europe and New England. For those who worry about environmental threats, he offers a route out of the worst of those problems; for those who wonder if there isn’t something more to life than buying, he provides the insight to think about one’s life as an individual and as a member of a larger community.McKibben offers a realistic, if challenging, scenario for a hopeful future. As he so eloquently shows, the more we nurture the essential humanity of our economy, the more we will recapture our own.


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The bestselling author of The End of Nature issues an impassioned call to arms for an economy that creates community and ennobles our livesIn this powerful and provocative manifesto, Bill McKibben offers the biggest challenge in a generation to the prevailing view of our economy. For the first time in human history, he observes, “more” is no longer synonymous with “better” The bestselling author of The End of Nature issues an impassioned call to arms for an economy that creates community and ennobles our livesIn this powerful and provocative manifesto, Bill McKibben offers the biggest challenge in a generation to the prevailing view of our economy. For the first time in human history, he observes, “more” is no longer synonymous with “better”—indeed, for many of us, they have become almost opposites. McKibben puts forward a new way to think about the things we buy, the food we eat, the energy we use, and the money that pays for it all. Our purchases, he says, need not be at odds with the things we truly value.McKibben’s animating idea is that we need to move beyond “growth” as the paramount economic ideal and pursue prosperity in a more local direction, with cities, suburbs, and regions producing more of their own food, generating more of their own energy, and even creating more of their own culture and entertainment. He shows this concept blossoming around the world with striking results, from the burgeoning economies of India and China to the more mature societies of Europe and New England. For those who worry about environmental threats, he offers a route out of the worst of those problems; for those who wonder if there isn’t something more to life than buying, he provides the insight to think about one’s life as an individual and as a member of a larger community.McKibben offers a realistic, if challenging, scenario for a hopeful future. As he so eloquently shows, the more we nurture the essential humanity of our economy, the more we will recapture our own.

30 review for Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    I had very high expectations for this book, perhaps that's why I ended up disliking it so much. I almost want to read it again just so I can tally up all of its faults. First off, the author should have had an economist review it. For being a book about the economy, I found its treatment of economics very poor. Anyone with a different viewpoint on economics could poke car-sized holes through most of his arguments. The vast majority of his evidence for various points he tries to make is anecdotal I had very high expectations for this book, perhaps that's why I ended up disliking it so much. I almost want to read it again just so I can tally up all of its faults. First off, the author should have had an economist review it. For being a book about the economy, I found its treatment of economics very poor. Anyone with a different viewpoint on economics could poke car-sized holes through most of his arguments. The vast majority of his evidence for various points he tries to make is anecdotal, and towards the end he says something like "If all of this sounds anecdotal to you, that's because it is," and then going on to say that that's the best evidence he's got. Maybe that's true from the very limited point of view he's taking, but not if you take a wider look at his topics. Not that his conclusions are completely wrong, but the argument he makes for them is simplistic at best. I think the author was trying to stay away from sounding leftist or even liberal, and trying to appease the right, and in doing so watered down his material greatly. The book is more about the environment and culture than it really is about economics, but at least he had the ability to see that economics is underlying the root of our problems with those issues. One of the parts that actually made me laugh out loud is towards the beginning when he writes, "Obviously, markets work." Yes, that is so obvious. Especially obvious to all the poor people around the world that he talks about so much. He tries to critique capitalism and at the same time praise it for how great it is. He laments that it's too global, not local enough, without realizing that it's really the inherent nature of capitalism to become big and do what it's currently doing to the world. But if only we could rein it in just a little, everything would be fine. Right. He constantly looks back to just a little bit in the past when we didn't live in such a globalized society with many of our recent technological advances, but really fails to see that we'd end up right back where we are today if we went his route of *only* reforming and changing things a little bit. The long and short of it is, if you already know that the environment is in peril, that the U.S. is too individualistic (or at least likes to pretend so), and that globalization has done great harm to local communities, you can avoid wasting your time with this book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kirk

    Everyone in the world should read this book and everyone who lives in a consumer obsessed society like the United States should be forced too. I'm only half way through this book and already know that this is possibly one of the most important books I have read in my life. Not only does it clearly and logically present everything that is wrong with our obsessiveness with producing more and doing it faster, which most every socially conscious person is already aware of, it also lays out very clea Everyone in the world should read this book and everyone who lives in a consumer obsessed society like the United States should be forced too. I'm only half way through this book and already know that this is possibly one of the most important books I have read in my life. Not only does it clearly and logically present everything that is wrong with our obsessiveness with producing more and doing it faster, which most every socially conscious person is already aware of, it also lays out very clear logical alternatives that can change our society from one obsessed with industrial growth to one focused on improving the way humanity utilizes our natural resources in a way that is much more in harmony with nature rather then the current method of the raping and pillaging of the earth that will, if no change is made, inevitably lead to if not the demise of humanity, then war and famine that this world has not yet experienced. In short he shows the reader everything that is distressingly wrong with our globalized society then gives the reader realistic hope for the future. READ THIS BOOK!!!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy

    The book was published in 2007, so it is interesting to see just how McKibben may have been on the right track with his opinions. One of his main points is to show how shifting to local economies will mean less stuff but more durability. Part I: After Growth Quote by John Maynard Keynes: "say, two thousand years before Christ down to the beginning of the eighteenth century, there was really no great change in the standard of living of the average man in the civilized centers of the earth. Ups and The book was published in 2007, so it is interesting to see just how McKibben may have been on the right track with his opinions. One of his main points is to show how shifting to local economies will mean less stuff but more durability. Part I: After Growth Quote by John Maynard Keynes: "say, two thousand years before Christ down to the beginning of the eighteenth century, there was really no great change in the standard of living of the average man in the civilized centers of the earth. Ups and downs, certainly visitations of plague, famine and war, golden intervals, but no progressive violent change." But in 1712, something new finally happened. British inventor Thomas Newcomen developed the first practical steam engine. It could replace 500 horses walking in a circle. The industrial revolution was about to begin. In 1776, Adam Smith noted in The Wealth of Nations that "continued increase" of "national wealth" increases wages. So "growth" became everything. It was the operative word and still is. When Reagan became president, growth was everything for both liberals and conservatives. Limits were out. By the presidency of George W. Bush, tax cuts were used to stimulate growth. Despite the disastrous consequences, that theory still holds sway in conservative circles. And I should add to the extreme. But McKibben points out that "growth is no longer making us happy." This may be his main theme. Here's another fact: "Though our economy has been growing, most of us have relatively little to show for it." The income disparity between the top and the bottom is enormous. And that disparity is worse now than when McKibben wrote this book. The liberal argument is to spread the growth around more. But McKibben believes that will not solve the problem. "Growth simply isn't enriching most of us." He next discusses the effects of growth on climate change. And they are enormous. We need to connect our economic policies with the environment and our own life experiences. Joy needs to be considered. Part II: The Year of Eating Locally Four companies slaughter 81% of American beef. Cargill controls 45% of the globe's grain trade. Archer Daniels Midland controls another 30% of the grain trade. In 15 years, Idaho potato farmers have been cut in half to less than 800. About 89% of American chickens are under contract to big companies, usually in broiler houses up to 500 feel long holding 30,000 or more chickens. The list could go on with virtually all commodities. The "farmers" in this process live often miserable lives. Can you imagine raising chickens for Perdue? They become "Land owning serfs in an agricultural feudal system." They make a pittance. Cheap rock lobster is often harvested by divers who show signs of neurological damage because they use ancient scuba equipment. Again, that's just one example. There are many more. One farm in Utah has 1.5 million hogs and more sewage problems than Los Angeles. This is not true farming. Abusing the environment can be efficient in a way. Just forget about the aftereffects. Our food system has become increasingly vulnerable to sabotage. Why hasn't it been done yet? Maybe because it's not as bloody and terrorizing as a massacre. Half the chicken in British supermarkets is contaminated with campylobacter. Live birds are stacked in enormous towers while awaiting slaughter. They shit on each other. People want cheap food. Ground water is running out. Places that are currently running dry: California, India, Mexico, China, Saudi Arabia. We are paying the price for the deep wells. The fact is, however, that small farms produce more food. You can intercrop different kinds of plants. Remember that and support them. The Cuban boycott helped Cuban farms to get small. It probably saved them. Part 3: All for One, or One for All Houses are now being developed to help people stay to themselves. As Margaret Thatcher said, "There are no such thing as 'society.' There are just individuals and their families." The public realm is coming under increasing attack. Selfishness rules, even in Christianity. We now have hyper-individualism The former Soviet Union is the most toxic place on earth. When Wal-Mart expands, all sorts of small businesses disappear. It eliminates 1 1/2 jobs for every 1 job it creates. More Wal-Marts means more poverty. People are happier with marriage, families, friends, community. The key to change is local. Part 4: The Wealth of Communities Interesting, in this chapter, McKibben talks about a small radio station. When Congress "deregulated" radio and ended the "fairness doctrine," the change was dramatic. Hate radio began. And Clear Channel controlled over 1200 stations. How is this deregulation? Locals could not even get local news on the air. In Powell, Wyoming, a red-state town, the citizens kept a Wal-Mart out and built a clothing store. Americans are the energy-use champions of all time. we require a lot of fossil fuels. Japan leads the world in building a decentralized solar-panel energy economy. Hyper-individualism has been spread by our tv shows. People around the world want to live like that. Vermont has a family forest program for local lumber that preserves forests. Part 5: The Durable Future About 30 million Chinese people a year pour out of the countryside into the city, the greatest migration in history. They want to be like America. It's just not possible for the earth to allow that. It cannot even handle one America. The deserts of the world are growing relentlessly. Mexico lost 1.3 million small farmers thanks to NAFTA. An impoverished coffee grower in Uganda gets 200 shillings for a kilo of coffee. Starbucks gets the equivalent of 5,000 shillings for one cup of coffee. All of the value items we buy at the grocery store? It's the same way. A surprising fact: McKibben saw many protestors in China. Farmers and workers were upset about their treatment. McKibben's hope of developing more community spirit here in the US does not fill me with the optimism he wants. Let me finish with this disturbing bit of information: In 2003, the US led transition government of Iraq in one of the first laws adopted protected the patenting of plants and seeds, even though 97% of Iraqi farmers used seeds from local markets or grown from their own crops. This was the Bush administration cooperating with the likes of Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, and Dow Chemical. Daniel Amstutz, who oversaw agricultural reconstruction in Iraq, was a former Cargill executive. That says it all, doesn't it?

  4. 4 out of 5

    Doug Forrester

    When I saw the title "Deep Economy" I had a sort of fascination as if I were watching a train wreck. Surely it would be pushing for radical socialism for the sake of radical environmentalism. Instead Bill McKibben wrote a book I'm still grappling with. His first line of attack is economic growth itself. First he argues economic growth is unsustainable. This is his strongest argument in the short-term but his weakest argument over-the-long haul. There are alternatives to fossil fuel when it becomes t When I saw the title "Deep Economy" I had a sort of fascination as if I were watching a train wreck. Surely it would be pushing for radical socialism for the sake of radical environmentalism. Instead Bill McKibben wrote a book I'm still grappling with. His first line of attack is economic growth itself. First he argues economic growth is unsustainable. This is his strongest argument in the short-term but his weakest argument over-the-long haul. There are alternatives to fossil fuel when it becomes too expensive to run our economies. We won't have an end to growth but simply growth with different economies. In the transition (the short-term) it will appear economic growth has stalled. However there's a more pressing problem if we continue to grow off fossil fuel we risk massive damage to the oceans, our climate and the air. McKibben's strongest argument is one I actually first ran into in Richard Layard's "Happiness": Economic growth is no longer making us happy and it's actually beginning to harm things that do make us happy (family, friendship, community, leisure time). It's hard to emphasize this enough but we are as irrational as a gold fish. If you place fish food in a goldfish's tank they'll eat until they die. We do the same with income. We tend to treat income as a good long past when we started giving up more important things for it. With our obesity epidemic we may be more like the goldfish than we think. On a grand scale a focus on economic growth also leads to isolation. Income divides between the wealthy and everyone else tend to grow faster than the economy. Mass migrations tend to leave people not trusting the newcomers or even their own neighbors. People tend to "Bowl Alone". McKibben calls this blindness to people "autistic economics". McKibben I should note does think economic growth is useful to a point, especially for developing nations. McKibben then attempts to describe what a replacement to our dysfunctional economy might be. He does not offer up tired communist or socialist centralism. He moves on to local economies, farmer's markets, an attack on industrial farming, and a focus on local culture. McKibben suggests the move to massive industrial farms using expensive chemicals, shipping their products halfway around the world, might be better replaced by a focus on local farms feeding local people. McKibben also suggests local media (radio stations) as an alternative to the media conglomerates that feed the same bland news and entertainment to Eureka, California as to Eureka, Kansas. McKibben does a good job attacking our goldfish-like hunger for faster and faster growth long after it's started to hurt us. McKibben has to be tentative and experimental in suggesting an alternative because alternatives to the hedonistic merry-go-round are just being tried.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    This was my first book written by Bill McKibben, a journalist and environmentalist. I think I have been wanting to lighten my carbon footprint but needed a little guidance on how to go about doing it. Living in Europe has opened me to be more accepting of local suppliers and retailers; the fact that shopping at our base commissary is a chore could be another reason I am happy to buy and live the European way. So it should come as no surprise that the chapters dealing with American style of agric This was my first book written by Bill McKibben, a journalist and environmentalist. I think I have been wanting to lighten my carbon footprint but needed a little guidance on how to go about doing it. Living in Europe has opened me to be more accepting of local suppliers and retailers; the fact that shopping at our base commissary is a chore could be another reason I am happy to buy and live the European way. So it should come as no surprise that the chapters dealing with American style of agriculture and the end of factory farming/industrial farms were the most impactful to me. I was also very interested in how politics were given the local is better treatment. Granted, the author lives in Vermont, a more liberal area of the U.S., so his ideas work because the state population is much more likely to want to live locally. The only area of the book I had to disagree with is the part where he talks about local currency; it seemed to be more of a throwback to the early days of the republic and was difficult for those living in border areas to live and work with differing currencies of the individual states. I think most of the ideas found in this book resonate with me because I read about them post 2008 global recession, so the ideas were not as radical (some were indeed necessary and some were probably implemented in 2009 and thereafter) as they were in 2007. Overall, I found this book to be useful in helping me start my journey to living less globally and more locally.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Patadave

    If you've never been exposed to environmentalism or green philosophy this work can serve as a general introduction. But, frankly, who hasn't been exposed to this stuff? A thin work of popular journalism with no substantive economic analysis at all.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I picked up Deep Economy as a sort of economic primer, hoping to become a bit more fluent in the language of acquisitions and nets and grosses. I also hoped that Bill McKibben would help me find a better response to those who still haven't converted to the cult of buying local. And in the first chapter, Bill McKibben clarifies GDP and GNP just enough to then claim that economics is much, much more than acronyms that try to measure the quest for monetary growth. Part personal challenge, part econ I picked up Deep Economy as a sort of economic primer, hoping to become a bit more fluent in the language of acquisitions and nets and grosses. I also hoped that Bill McKibben would help me find a better response to those who still haven't converted to the cult of buying local. And in the first chapter, Bill McKibben clarifies GDP and GNP just enough to then claim that economics is much, much more than acronyms that try to measure the quest for monetary growth. Part personal challenge, part economic treatise, Deep Economy articulates an economy that keeps people in mind, and that's willing to say 'enough' when what we have is, in fact, enough. McKibben practices deep economics in his community near Burlington, Vermont. From his year long pledge to eat locally and sustainably to the numerous examples of others whose livelihoods may never be accounted for in national economic statistics, McKibben stands by his claim that 'more' and 'better' can no longer be the sole indicators of a thriving economy. Though he doesn't promote a new and specific means of measuring economic success, McKibben points out various measurements in other countries, including the index of well-being in Great Britain and the index of community vitality in Canada. He also includes as examples of successful local economies, Ithaca, NY - where locals trade a community currency - and Kerala, one of the poorest states in India, which has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of Deep Economy is to nudge us non-economists into thinking economically. And by that, I simply mean questioning how we can arrange our bartering and trading, buying and selling to affirm ourselves and our communities. That kind of economics doesn't even need an acronym.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    McKibben explores the moral consequences of hyperindividualism where ones own pursuits limits the freedoms of others. He shows how we are literally consuming ourselves out of existence. He documents the trend of our culture moving towards a community oriented life and demonstrates that our current economic models do not adequately account for our happyness and quality of life. This is not a doom and gloom book, rather the author points to emerging trends that suggest that we our slowly moving away McKibben explores the moral consequences of hyperindividualism where ones own pursuits limits the freedoms of others. He shows how we are literally consuming ourselves out of existence. He documents the trend of our culture moving towards a community oriented life and demonstrates that our current economic models do not adequately account for our happyness and quality of life. This is not a doom and gloom book, rather the author points to emerging trends that suggest that we our slowly moving away from mass consumption and glorification of self to an awareness and need for others. I loved his one year diet that he tried where he ate only locally grown food. The food was bland at times but the relationships he made in the effort far outweighed the paucity of choices during winter months ( think roots!). The book is filled with a lot of useful statistics concerning the interelatedness of energy, culture, environment and our economy.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    McKibben presents a view that I have increasingly found myself taking lately: why can't we just have enough instead of making ourselves crazy and our world toxic struggling to have more? He does a wonderful job of making the philosophical argument for slowing down. I don't have sufficient economic knowledge to judge his arguments in that realm. I found his anecdotal evidence compelling, but I could not easily discern how these small projects and groups might have scaled up. Also, I would have li McKibben presents a view that I have increasingly found myself taking lately: why can't we just have enough instead of making ourselves crazy and our world toxic struggling to have more? He does a wonderful job of making the philosophical argument for slowing down. I don't have sufficient economic knowledge to judge his arguments in that realm. I found his anecdotal evidence compelling, but I could not easily discern how these small projects and groups might have scaled up. Also, I would have liked some more broad-spectrum data. McKibben never attempts to establish the standard of living that he proposes this world could sustain, and I suspect that failure stems from an apparent reluctance to tackle population growth. This lurking issue nearly surfaces repeatedly in the book, but it only ever gets a passing treatment. Still, on the whole, the book does a great job of presenting a view from well outside the mainstream.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

    I really enjoyed the chapter on local food and McKibben's analysis of the heavy oil inputs into our subsidized corn-fed food chain. Otherwise, this is a cliche and shrill regurgitation of the already nauseating _Bowling Alone_, Michael Pollan's excellent _Omnivore's Dilemma_, and all anti-Wal-Mart sentiment that comes from overeducated champagne liberals in small towns like Middlebury, VT, Boulder, CO and Ann Arbor, MI. I really enjoyed the chapter on local food and McKibben's analysis of the heavy oil inputs into our subsidized corn-fed food chain. Otherwise, this is a cliche and shrill regurgitation of the already nauseating _Bowling Alone_, Michael Pollan's excellent _Omnivore's Dilemma_, and all anti-Wal-Mart sentiment that comes from overeducated champagne liberals in small towns like Middlebury, VT, Boulder, CO and Ann Arbor, MI.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gracie Brett

    This was a really great book— but I’m giving it four stars just because McKibben never mentioned socialism. I totally agree that our economy cannot continue to grow on a finite planet, but capitalism requires growth. Thus, the only logical way out is ecosocialism. I always say there’s two things every environmentalist should be: socialist and vegan. Still a great read, I love mckibben!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    The rise of a new economics. That is what McKibben succeeds in describing through Deep Economy. After years of the 'Cult of Growth' dominating modern US politics, the Vermont environmental writer argues that its time we invest in our communities. Perhaps the wonders of globalization argued for by the likes of Friedman, Krugman and countless others are really just creating an illusion of wealth, economic growth that is merely overshoot and and consistent undermining of the communities that build The rise of a new economics. That is what McKibben succeeds in describing through Deep Economy. After years of the 'Cult of Growth' dominating modern US politics, the Vermont environmental writer argues that its time we invest in our communities. Perhaps the wonders of globalization argued for by the likes of Friedman, Krugman and countless others are really just creating an illusion of wealth, economic growth that is merely overshoot and and consistent undermining of the communities that build a society. McKibben comes from the position of a political neutral, stating that Democrats and Republican are handicapped by the obsession with the unrealizable ideal of unlimited growth. But what does a non-growth based economy look like? Maybe it looks a little bit like today with Keynesian theories as our last effort to stave off the collapse of a system built on making money out of nothing but the exchange of personal values and community structures for a few percentage point increases in GDP. Maximizing utility has brought about many changes in the US landscape,a prime example being the consolidation of local media among corporations. When 2-3% is a reasonable return rate on a business operation, especially for news media, the "shareholders" of major news giants like McClatchy and ClearChannel have demanded more, degrading the quality of countless news organizations and damaging the communities we thought our economics were helping. And as cited in Deep Economy when one South Dakota town contacted local radio to help out in an emergency, repeaters for ClearChannel stations don't really help to get messages out to the public. The other problem with our society is that consumption reigns king, a key portion of our GDP (oh... only about 70% or so). This consumption is quickly depleting material inputs and releases damaging externalities accelerating climate change and making industry suffer in the long term. Simply put, we get paid too much, work too much and buy too much. There is an alternative and that option is exemplified through the leadership of cities like Curitiba, Brazil, communities that start from the bottom up. The solution is a society that builds cost effective bus rapid transit, values pedestrians over drivers, and the impoverished as citizens instead of degenerates. Societies such as these exist but aren't as "efficient" as most investors would like. And duly so, even Bhutan has rejected western ways in measuring happiness instead of GDP a method that might have far more actual value. A point is reached in every society where certain people have enough and more simply doesn't make them happier. The US has arrived at the point where so much more is making us much unhappier. Becoming unhappier with longer working hours, less time with family and bigger more isolating possession all while the people we sweep under the rug for our societal needs are beginning to lose their jobs, turning into hopeless machinations of society. Many economists cite the fact that severe economic times result in new theories of economics. Perhaps our rulers will heed the advice of McKibben and begin to invest in communities... communities that are more than just excuses to be shovel ready.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    written 2007 - how does it stand up, and does one need to be a PhD economist to write about economics? my biased answers: 1) pretty well 2) no ============ Notes p. 184 if chinese ate meat as we do, they'd use 2/3 of world grain; if they ... autos, all the oil produced. IOW, our econ won't work for China. India is predicted to pass China pop. by 2030 188 growth in China: pollution in their cities, loss of jobs rest of world 189 eg, Mexico manufact. jobs => China and India [TG - the econ models say this is written 2007 - how does it stand up, and does one need to be a PhD economist to write about economics? my biased answers: 1) pretty well 2) no ============ Notes p. 184 if chinese ate meat as we do, they'd use 2/3 of world grain; if they ... autos, all the oil produced. IOW, our econ won't work for China. India is predicted to pass China pop. by 2030 188 growth in China: pollution in their cities, loss of jobs rest of world 189 eg, Mexico manufact. jobs => China and India [TG - the econ models say this is good - lowest price is always best] per capita, the earth now produces less corn, wheat, tice than 1 gen. ago. China exports manufact. goods in order to buy food and oil. 190 if growth entails loss of resources, than we must include that offset in its evaluation. Dasgupta (econ) says actual wealth of most countries declining if capital assets are included. 'cheap labor' viewed as an asset!?, thus we send farmers to cities 191 World econ's tell devel to convert (family, subsistence) farmers to cash (mono) crops 191 creates slum conditions. In Central Amer. we push US sed and pesticides and debt onto farmers [India another example] 192 NAFTA destroys Mex. Us subsidizes corn crop to undercut Mex farmers who then sell out to large farm corps or migrate to US or cities. Same w/ coffee: local crop v large crop exported. 194 J. Sachs, advisor to India, encouraged 'growth'. Rots in China agst taking of fam farms lands for mining, industry. 195 Gini coeff (income disparity): China: .45, US .40, Jap .25 196 rise in world consumerism => obesity. US exports TV prog's, movies. Trump [already in 2007] is viewed as bad model 197 using a carb tax, US should pay at least $73B to devel ctry's so they can have decent SoL Changes to US - less on capitalism; max productivity, more sustainability; not growth, instead durability 198 agric choices: 1) max produc, use petrol, chemicals. OR 2) continue fam farms, not Cargill farms 200 bike tech for farmers in Guat. 208 rabbit raising (food, fur, biogas) in china 209 H. de Soto, Peru econ 211 Future generation - community level projects 218 Bikes as status or as least as not backward: Holland - 30% urban trips by bike 219 Kerala, India, pop. 30M: christ.,Hind, Musl equally; life expect. 73 males; 100% literacy 220 lack of growth in Kerala - a prob? 221 [tg, can we sell a life of less material goods to the US] 222 europeans give more aid than US, have less poverty, less crime, better health, consume half 224 qual of life index, Economist, top 10 - europe; decline in happiness in US Brit 166 M, Amer 350 M BTUs annually 230 [afterword] M. Slesser econ

  14. 4 out of 5

    Wayne

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I'm really enjoying this one. It's a lot the same sort of thing that John Michael Greer covered in "The Long Descent," except that McKibben has a much lighter, jocular, more informal style with illustrative anecdotes that make the reader feel more connected to the subject, such as when he interviews employees at a shower curtain factory in China about their quality of life. On the downside (comparing him to Greer), I find his name dropping annoying. When Greer cites another work, he tends to giv I'm really enjoying this one. It's a lot the same sort of thing that John Michael Greer covered in "The Long Descent," except that McKibben has a much lighter, jocular, more informal style with illustrative anecdotes that make the reader feel more connected to the subject, such as when he interviews employees at a shower curtain factory in China about their quality of life. On the downside (comparing him to Greer), I find his name dropping annoying. When Greer cites another work, he tends to give some background on what the work is and why it matters. McKibben, on the other hand, may mention three or four different authors' works in a single paragraph, with no more context than a number to look up in the bibliography. I compare these two because I see them hitting a lot of the same topics and citing some of the same works, notably E.F. Schumacher's "Small is Beautiful." The theme so far: We used to think that more is better, and back when our ancestors were starving and freezing in dirt-floored cabins, it was true. But now that even poor people in America have a staggering amount of affluence compared to those struggling forebears, consuming the world's resources at a staggering and unsustainable rate, it's not making us any happier. As we've become more voracious consumers, we've also experienced increases in divorce, alcoholism, suicide, and depression. McKibben suggests that we need to break out of our present pattern of thinking to learn a new strategy for pursuing happiness before we destroy ourselves and the planet's ability to support life. [Edit: I added the following after finishing the book.] It's amazing how much this guy has traveled. I think his anecdotes from around the world added tremendously to the storytelling, to relating his principles by way of real-life examples.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Robinson

    McKibben's premise is fairly simple. Our current economic model is based on encouraging as much growth as possible. McKibben contends that the equation more = better is simply not true any longer. Encouraging growth at all costs has been the American way since the Industrial Revolution and it served us extremely well for quite awhile. Additionally, it is still an important economic model for developing nations who haven't yet reached a comfortable standard of living for most of their citizens. B McKibben's premise is fairly simple. Our current economic model is based on encouraging as much growth as possible. McKibben contends that the equation more = better is simply not true any longer. Encouraging growth at all costs has been the American way since the Industrial Revolution and it served us extremely well for quite awhile. Additionally, it is still an important economic model for developing nations who haven't yet reached a comfortable standard of living for most of their citizens. But McKibben argues that we Americans need a shift in our economic thinking for 3 reasons: 1.) growth is producing more inequality than prosperity for the masses, 2.) we do not have the energy resources needed to continue the levels of growth we seek and 3.) growth is no longer making us happy. Given such a controversial thesis, the solutions offered in Deep Economy seem fairly tame: buy and eat locally grown food, listen to local radio stations, take the bus, connect with your neighbors. While defining growth as "bad" (which is an unfair simplification in a lot of ways), can be seen as a straightforward liberal ideal, it is hard to categorize the emphasis on local economies and community (in its true, sentimentalized version) as liberal hogwash. An interesting read. I'm eagerly awaiting the day that hydrogen-powered buses appear on the streets of Peabody and replace my Corolla.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stop

    Read the STOP SMILING interview with Deep Economy author Bill McKibben: (This interview originally appeared in the STOP SMILING Gambling Issue) In 12 books and countless magazine articles written over the last quarter century, Bill McKibben has tracked and suggested a way to alleviate the impact of human life on the natural world. In doing so, he has emerged as one of our most trenchant environmental writers and campaigners: Over the past few years, he has organized the largest demonstrations agai Read the STOP SMILING interview with Deep Economy author Bill McKibben: (This interview originally appeared in the STOP SMILING Gambling Issue) In 12 books and countless magazine articles written over the last quarter century, Bill McKibben has tracked and suggested a way to alleviate the impact of human life on the natural world. In doing so, he has emerged as one of our most trenchant environmental writers and campaigners: Over the past few years, he has organized the largest demonstrations against global warming in the country’s history, and in March, Holt Paperbacks published a collection of his essays titled The Bill McKibben Reader: Pieces from an Active Life. McKibben is also the editor of American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau, a compendium spanning more than 150 years, which was published in April as part of the Library of America series. Read the interview...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Katie Zombo

    I think this book, while somewhat dated (written in 2007), showcases a lot of ways that focusing on a more local instead of global economy can help the environment. One of my favorite examples was talking about factory farming vs small farms. If you want to produce the cheapest food, factory farming is the way to go. However, if you want to produce the most food, healthier food, and reduce your carbon footprint, smaller farms are best. Factory farms are most profitable with one crop, it ruins th I think this book, while somewhat dated (written in 2007), showcases a lot of ways that focusing on a more local instead of global economy can help the environment. One of my favorite examples was talking about factory farming vs small farms. If you want to produce the cheapest food, factory farming is the way to go. However, if you want to produce the most food, healthier food, and reduce your carbon footprint, smaller farms are best. Factory farms are most profitable with one crop, it ruins the soil, and they have to use tons of fertilizer to replenish nutrients back into the soil to start over again. But a smaller farm will be able to have multiple types of crops, and creating an system where each crop uses different nutrients, or puts nutrients back into the soil that another crop can use. It will not destroy the land, and it will produce a lot more food. I'm looking to read more on this topic so if you have any suggestions please let me know!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Robert Wechsler

    This book is much better than it could have been. McKibben has an excellent way of getting ideas across, not only through concrete examples, but also in the language he uses to capture the abstract. There were only a few places where I found myself skimming, because he was covering well-trod ground or going into too much detail. The book is about creating an alternative to growth and international trade by focusing on values and things local. But McKibben is a realist; rarely do his values take h This book is much better than it could have been. McKibben has an excellent way of getting ideas across, not only through concrete examples, but also in the language he uses to capture the abstract. There were only a few places where I found myself skimming, because he was covering well-trod ground or going into too much detail. The book is about creating an alternative to growth and international trade by focusing on values and things local. But McKibben is a realist; rarely do his values take him beyond the practical. He’s not out to make a believer out of people as much as to make people wonder why they haven’t tried this or that way of making their lives more satisfying. A solid 4.5.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Shonna Siegers

    Great look at our unsustainable way of living while asking us to look for new ways to see the economy. This was well written and great evidence from economists and local economies examples. The author however does fail to note that the impoverished countries and communities are most often that way due to our white colonialist history and exploiting local resources in those areas and leaving indigenous people to pick up the pieces. I think a look at that would help drive home is points even more Great look at our unsustainable way of living while asking us to look for new ways to see the economy. This was well written and great evidence from economists and local economies examples. The author however does fail to note that the impoverished countries and communities are most often that way due to our white colonialist history and exploiting local resources in those areas and leaving indigenous people to pick up the pieces. I think a look at that would help drive home is points even more strongly.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tamara Prosper

    I read this book a few years and I'm reading it again now. Much of what was forecast when the book was written is happening now. It's very informative.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Laurent K.

    First things first: yes this book is still relevant. Maybe not all bits but the majority is. This book discusses multiple topics which all connect back the main focus of the book which has to do with economics. From the cost of things to their consequences (financially of course). As a example, one such topic is examining the resources that would be used by China if every person living there could afford to live a middle class lifestyle such as owning a car. While another topic one would find in First things first: yes this book is still relevant. Maybe not all bits but the majority is. This book discusses multiple topics which all connect back the main focus of the book which has to do with economics. From the cost of things to their consequences (financially of course). As a example, one such topic is examining the resources that would be used by China if every person living there could afford to live a middle class lifestyle such as owning a car. While another topic one would find in the book is about the inefficiency of transporting food sold in supermarkets across the globe. So theres a vast amount of categories covered in this book along with some short interviews which all link back to the central theme regarding economics. The author does something speculate about the future in which sense some parts might not be relevant as they already happened (which is interesting as It lets you compare the authors claims to how they turned out in the real world). all in all, I would still recommend this book for others too read as it contains very useful information, no jargon used so it can be understood by everyone and also because of the humor here and there :)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Luke

    Oh man. What can I say? Not my favorite book. At all. In theory, McKibben's thoughts are good ones. Namely that we shouldn't use more than we need. Okay fine. The problem is that a) his reasoning is based on a false premise and b) he feels that people should be compelled to see things from his point-of-view. The globe is not warming. We haven't had a warming trend for the past 15 years. This is easily verified looking at the climate-alarmists' own data. And actually, what the East Anglia debacle Oh man. What can I say? Not my favorite book. At all. In theory, McKibben's thoughts are good ones. Namely that we shouldn't use more than we need. Okay fine. The problem is that a) his reasoning is based on a false premise and b) he feels that people should be compelled to see things from his point-of-view. The globe is not warming. We haven't had a warming trend for the past 15 years. This is easily verified looking at the climate-alarmists' own data. And actually, what the East Anglia debacle of last year proved is that some of these scientists are actively manipulating the data to "hide the decline" in world temps. The planet is warm currently, yes. The planet has been warmer than this in the past, yes. The Medieval Warming Period is the hottest warming period on record and there were no carbon-producing cars and factories in the Medieval world. If the planet is warming, we are not causing it. At least the current data does not prove that we are. To point B, if people want to take up McKibben's initiatives on their own and work to institute them in their own communities, good on you. If not, fine also. McKibben really exposes his progressive roots when he starts speaking about encouraging people (via government intervention) to follow his proscribed path, ala Sunstein and "Nudge". We live in America. We enjoy the freedom to shop at big-box retailers if we so choose. The government has no right to force us to adhere to this kind of environmentalism. For recent examples of this kind of over-reach, I would point to the new "eco-friendly" lightbulbs which create a mini bio-hazard if they are broken and new toilets which use a minimal amount of water. San Francisco is now having serious sewer problems because these "eco-toilets" don't contain enough water to fully flush the waste out of sewer pipes. Yet the government has made it so that it will be nearly impossible to use regular lightbulbs or install a traditional toilet. As with anything, I believe that the free-market is the best place to test the relative merits of these types of initiatives. We don't need more government intervention/subsidy/regulation in our lives, we need less. I believe McKibben is honest in his endeavors, but he just gets so much wrong. I'm sorry to say that he comes across as a affluent, East-coast, liberal elite who believes he has the answer and wants to tell you how to live your life. His positions, which are ostensibly valid, simply aren't practical for the average family who shops at large grocery-store chains because they don't have enough money in the food budget to shop elsewhere, or the time in their daily schedule to seek out a farmer's market. He assumes that since he felt isolated from his community before he started reaching out, that everyone else's situation is the same. I think the American community is alive and well these days. Was our lifestyle more communal in days-past? Perhaps, but through the internet and mobile technology we are interacting with each other more frequently throughout the day and perhaps need to find some "alone-time" when we get home. Thanks for taking the time to read my review!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Preston Kutney

    Growth and efficiency are the twin pillars of capitalist economic theory. The coupling of "more" and "better" has driven political theory and economic thought for decades. But today we are bumping up against the effective limits of this thinking. Growth and efficiency have 3 key limitations that prohibit their continued place as the central goals of industry and commerce: 1) growth is no longer making most people wealthier, but instead generating inequality and insecurity. Efficiency is often dri Growth and efficiency are the twin pillars of capitalist economic theory. The coupling of "more" and "better" has driven political theory and economic thought for decades. But today we are bumping up against the effective limits of this thinking. Growth and efficiency have 3 key limitations that prohibit their continued place as the central goals of industry and commerce: 1) growth is no longer making most people wealthier, but instead generating inequality and insecurity. Efficiency is often driven by consolidation and centralization - this generally exacerbates inequality and the fragility of the economy.  2) "growth is bumping against physical limits so profound - like climate change and peak oil - that continuing to expand the economy may be impossible; the very attempt may be dangerous.  We will either run out of energy or be unable to handle the pollution created." 3) "new research from many quarters has started to show that even when growth does make us wealthier, the greater wealth no longer makes us happier. Money consistently buys happiness right up to the $10,000 per capita income, and that after that point the correlation disappears." McKibben has some great high-level ideas that are very intuitive and will strike a chord with anyone with an interest in sustainability. His ideas have stuck with me, which I think is always the true test of a "manifesto" type book such as this. The weakness of the book is its shaky and anecdotal support of the main theses. I'm not saying McKibben is wrong, I just don't think he gave the critical reader enough solid, comprehensive evidence that what he proposes will work the way he believes. I really liked his idea on why we are so addicted to growth: "Endless growth allows us to avoid hard choices, to reconcile the American 'love of liberty' with its egalitarian pretensions". The prospect of future economic growth allows us to kick the can down the road and avoid responsibility for leveling the economic playing field. I think this is so important to understand because we will soon have to kick this habit of relying on growth to solve our problems. Thomas Piketty explained the recent world history of growth: we will soon depart the most explosive period of economic growth in world history. From all the data available in recorded history, long-term growth rates have only exceeded 1-2% in the past hundred or so years. And rates are unlikely to remain as high as they have been in recent years (that is, if the planet could even support that). So, whether by choice or by necessity, we will soon have to adapt to a world and an economy that relies much less heavily on growth.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nate

    McKibben does a good job I think of confronting the assumption that growth is necessary for the economy. The cult of growth, which has held thorough control over media and government perspectives on economic policy accepts no counter policy for debate. Alternative measures to "save" the economy may be discussed, but few politicians or media mouthpieces dare to question the necessity of growth altogether. The cult of growth claims that GDP growth provides progress, which makes the expansion of wea McKibben does a good job I think of confronting the assumption that growth is necessary for the economy. The cult of growth, which has held thorough control over media and government perspectives on economic policy accepts no counter policy for debate. Alternative measures to "save" the economy may be discussed, but few politicians or media mouthpieces dare to question the necessity of growth altogether. The cult of growth claims that GDP growth provides progress, which makes the expansion of wealth possible. Growth supporters think that the western European model could be spread to the developing world, providing them with the same kind of "standard of living" familiar in America. But this view ignores the vast material inputs required to sustain constant growth. Using up natural resources, from rainforests to clean air, wastes a kind of capital resource. There is a limited amount that can be degraded. The perpetual growth machine ignores its resource use, and McKibben provides many examples of the consequences of this kind of oversight. If you consider resources used, the "miracle" economies of the developing world don't look nearly so hot. Growth that uses capital resources raises the stakes, meaning when the system fails, it has to fall harder and further. Where McKibben does not yet tread is the question of whether we have a right to do all this? I think we could only justly claim usufructory rights over the earth--that is to say, only uses that leave as much and as good for future generations can be justified. Use of limited natural resources like fossil fuels is only justified if we can provide a replacement energy source for posterity. McKibben leaves this argument to others, for now. It is said that growth is a vehicle to greater quality of life, but this is not true in the present incarnation of globalization (where inequality absorbs much of the benefit, especially in the developing world.) The rising tide lifts few boats, it turns out. "Free Trade" prevents structures that would seek to tie justice to growth. It favors those with access to great resources, like loans of fiat currency over those who are outside the loop. McKibben's book is mostly useful for its examples and frequent citation, as he summarizes the problem in several areas, including food politics and the food relocalization movement.

  25. 5 out of 5

    David

    Deep Economy will force you to reevaluate your purchasing patterns and (hopefully) your consumer behavior. He illustrates that the current economic model most nations are using may end up with many more losers than winners. While the world is growing at an enormous rate, we are consuming at an enormous rate. He illustrates how unsustainable this is for the US and the arsenal of countries on the verge of becoming developed. In exchange, he offers a new way of looking at economics. He develops a mo Deep Economy will force you to reevaluate your purchasing patterns and (hopefully) your consumer behavior. He illustrates that the current economic model most nations are using may end up with many more losers than winners. While the world is growing at an enormous rate, we are consuming at an enormous rate. He illustrates how unsustainable this is for the US and the arsenal of countries on the verge of becoming developed. In exchange, he offers a new way of looking at economics. He develops a model through a local community in place of a growth model. In the first chapter, he shows how our food system could be altered in order to be more sustainable and to build community at the same time. Later he extends this model to other issues pressing our future on the earth: energy production, transportation, etc. From my perspective growing up on a farm, everything McKibben makes sense: Buy local, and all of the money goes to the farmers in the community and at the same time, food is the freshest. Live within your means in a way that is in concert with the environment. Over consumption doesn't equal happiness, but family, community, and relationships will lead to lasting happiness. I appreciate that his ideas are not radical nor ideological. McKibben reinforced his ideas with common sense alternatives to our typical consumerism in the United States. I think that you would be inspired after reading this book, and realize how much control we do have to shape the world. Reading this after my recent travels to Nicaragua inspires me to start my professional life living within my means; Central America more than many places shows us the consequences of United States decisions. I will definitely try to thwart off all of the pressures for hyper-consumerism. My friend recommended this book to me last year and I decided I should pick it up and read it before McKibben comes to my campus in April. The book surely did not disappoint, and I'm excited to see his talk in April.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    I added this book to my "to-read" list just a couple of years after it came out, and then it just sort of got lost in the shuffle. I should add that my TRL is just short of 1000 books now, so it's not implausible that this even happened. Still, I wish I'd gotten to it sooner, even though it's even more important now than it was then if that's possible. McKibben is showing us the power of community and how it can help us, how it has helped others, and why that's a necessity for the future of the I added this book to my "to-read" list just a couple of years after it came out, and then it just sort of got lost in the shuffle. I should add that my TRL is just short of 1000 books now, so it's not implausible that this even happened. Still, I wish I'd gotten to it sooner, even though it's even more important now than it was then if that's possible. McKibben is showing us the power of community and how it can help us, how it has helped others, and why that's a necessity for the future of the globe. He discusses the cult of individualism that we've succumbed to in the USA, and how a return to community will enhance our world. A significant portion of our lives is consumed with the "more is better" mantra and there are now economic models that show quality of life patterns that prove this is simply not true. I'm planning to review how I purchase things in the hopes of attaining after reading this book. I'd like to believe that my life experience will be better, without the More.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Owen

    In this eminently readable text, McKibben pleads for a resolution to the current economic madness involving constant (and unsustainable) growth, by moving towards a model based on local initiatives that bring back life to communities now being shredded by the doctrines of globalization and free trade. Although he has been criticized as a lightweight back-to-the-lander and fear-mongerer by right-wing pundits, he has successfully combined an understanding of what "land" can mean (in both western a In this eminently readable text, McKibben pleads for a resolution to the current economic madness involving constant (and unsustainable) growth, by moving towards a model based on local initiatives that bring back life to communities now being shredded by the doctrines of globalization and free trade. Although he has been criticized as a lightweight back-to-the-lander and fear-mongerer by right-wing pundits, he has successfully combined an understanding of what "land" can mean (in both western and Indigenous terms) with a broader worldview (citing such local/global thinkers including Wendell Barry and Lewis Mumford as he does so), and what our current divorce from nature is costing us, including the march towards catastrophic global warming and climate change. At times a poetic clarion call for justice for both man and nature, McKibben has successfully positioned his worldview within what is possibly, in the end, the most important part of all our civilizations: our community. This is an important contribution to the literature of the new millennium and the ecology of man.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bookmarks Magazine

    In offering straightforward solutions to the looming environmental crisis, Bill McKibben has marched directly into the middle of a heated debate. Critics' personal beliefs and politics shaped their reviews, which described Deep Economy as, alternately, a "masterfully crafted, deeply thoughtful and mind-expanding treatise" (Los Angeles Times) and a "book-length sermon on what is wrong with the way we live" (San Francisco Chronicle). Some reviewers found McKibben's solutions practical and the auth In offering straightforward solutions to the looming environmental crisis, Bill McKibben has marched directly into the middle of a heated debate. Critics' personal beliefs and politics shaped their reviews, which described Deep Economy as, alternately, a "masterfully crafted, deeply thoughtful and mind-expanding treatise" (Los Angeles Times) and a "book-length sermon on what is wrong with the way we live" (San Francisco Chronicle). Some reviewers found McKibben's solutions practical and the author refreshingly unpretentious, while others considered his vision utopian and his attitude self-righteous. However, they did agree that McKibben writes compellingly__with warmth, sincerity, and a sharp sense of humor. His resolute hope for the future will resound with readers no matter where their loyalties lie. But will it change any minds?This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Adam Cherson

    I rate this book a 3.49 on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being best. "Cheap oil has meant cheap synthetic fertilizer, big tractors, and everything else we associate with modern agriculture. You get more food per acre with small farms; more food per dollar with big ones." "Ever wonder why soybean products can be found in two-thirds of all processed food? It may have something to do with the fact that “about seventy percent of the value of the American soy bean comes straight from the U.S. government.” D I rate this book a 3.49 on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being best. "Cheap oil has meant cheap synthetic fertilizer, big tractors, and everything else we associate with modern agriculture. You get more food per acre with small farms; more food per dollar with big ones." "Ever wonder why soybean products can be found in two-thirds of all processed food? It may have something to do with the fact that “about seventy percent of the value of the American soy bean comes straight from the U.S. government.” Ditto for high-fructose corn syrup. Essentially, we are subsidizing Cheetos." "In recent decades, however, this process of liberation seems to me to have come close to running its course. What ties are left to cut? We change religions, spouses, towns, professions with ease. Our affluence isolates us ever more. We are not just individualists; we are hyper-individualists such as the world has never known."

  30. 4 out of 5

    Duncan

    Second time I read it, had completely forgotten it, although it's generally good and I tend to mostly agree with McKibben. Opening is about three issues facing humanity: peak oil, global warming, and lack of increased happiness with current economic system. His main argument is that the current economic system is not sustainable because 1) it's totally dependent on oil, 2) it's ruining the environment, and 3) it's not making us any happier. He rails against modern capitalism (scaling up, homogen Second time I read it, had completely forgotten it, although it's generally good and I tend to mostly agree with McKibben. Opening is about three issues facing humanity: peak oil, global warming, and lack of increased happiness with current economic system. His main argument is that the current economic system is not sustainable because 1) it's totally dependent on oil, 2) it's ruining the environment, and 3) it's not making us any happier. He rails against modern capitalism (scaling up, homogenizing, moving things about) and generally argues for a kind of return to more localized economies. Presents examples and anecdote (e.g. community radios, community farming, co-generation, Ithaca dollars, etc.) but no coherent analytic structure (as he has for his critique). He generally argues for a change in perspective, but doesn't really say how we can achieve this (other than being wowed by his book)

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