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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Re-setting your mind
Since the end of WWII, the English-speaking world has created a new outlook on the individual and social relations. Where once we were part of small town rural communities or even close-knit urban neighbourhoods, now we've moved a major part of our population into the suburbs. Single houses, fenced or hedged keep us insulated from each other and the world. McKibben calls...
Published on 4 July 2007 by Stephen A. Haines

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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Gloomy world
The greens have a problem, and its called China. This single country has been powering away for many years now in manufacturing products the world wants to buy, and at the same time lifting her people from poverty and hunger. This is a great story, and one which many other developing countries (especially in Africa) want to emulate. It has achieved much of that growth by...
Published on 21 May 2012 by Dr. P. R. Lewis


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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Re-setting your mind, 4 July 2007
By 
Stephen A. Haines (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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Since the end of WWII, the English-speaking world has created a new outlook on the individual and social relations. Where once we were part of small town rural communities or even close-knit urban neighbourhoods, now we've moved a major part of our population into the suburbs. Single houses, fenced or hedged keep us insulated from each other and the world. McKibben calls it "hyperindividuality" with each of us following the myth of More and Better. We demand More and Better appliances in our kitchen, More and Better vehicles in the garage with More and Better roads to drive them on. An economy based on this philosophy has touted Growth as a beacon to set the direction of our thinking. The resulting high consumption lifestyle has masked the true costs of how we live.

In this comprehensive and long overdue study, McKibben describes the way our current mindset is driving our lives. As an expressive reformer, he also provides a set of almost painless cures to restore without abandoning what we've become accustomed to. We can rebuild "community" without serious disruption. The "almost painless" simply means a small change in outlook and a willingness to undertake the work to achieve sustainable lives and communities. Finding each other and building more more communicative relationships with each other is a major first step. From those initial contacts healthier and more responsible lifestyles can result. The thin edge of the wedge in achieving this is simply for each of us to ask ourselves "How much Growth do we need?"

Personal interaction is best enhanced, according to McKibben, by the shift to local food and other products. With vegetables travelling thousands of kilometres to reach your dining table, paying increased attention to what is available locally has many advantages. Among the greatest of these is knowledge that the products money stays in your vicinity and are likely right at hand in your area. In North America, the "family farm" has disappeared, replaced by huge tracts of land run by distant owners. Still, "Farmer's markets" have burgeoned in recent years and are increasing in number. The "organic" product has even entered the supermarket chains, a step McKibben feels should be further encouraged. Community-supported agriculture is a major aspect of this book. Along with local small farms, the "urban garden" utilisation of vacant lots has also grown . In both forms, the money you spend remains in your community. In some places, that has given rise to a local currency to facilitate support for local farmers and manufacturers.

The author stresses that our situation doesn't require rapid nor radical change in how we live. What he seeks is a "patient rebalancing of the scales". His native country, although its population still believes it stands above the rest of the nations, has slipped drastically in essential features. He has travelled many lands to witness various solutions that have been implemented. Many of these can be applied here, and it is here that the rebalancing is needed most. Our past values are not flawless, but he thinks we have sufficient common sense to find and use the best solutions where they can do the most good. Living in Vermont, he is favoured by his proximity not only to his neighbours, but to the politicians from the township to the federal level. That situation grants him and his fellow townsmen the opportunity to urge things like shifting subsidies from corporate farms to community ones.

None of his proposals embraces the "warm and fuzzy" feeling the word "community" often evokes. The romantic myth of small towns of closely-knit families is just that - a myth. For starters, there's no defined limit of what size a community must be to be workable. There are, McKibben argues, many "data points" to be considered. The difficulty is that our new mind-set has kept us from considering which ones are available to you and how to utilise them best. This volume, which is as much a guide-book for the future as it is a lamentation of why we need such a road-map, explains how to assess those data points by which you can help create a viable future. Read it and find out how and why. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is it too little, too late?, 6 April 2010
By 
David A. Gibson (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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Having read many books on the subject of global overshoot, peak oil, peak coal, peak water, peak everything, targeted primarily at the American, but also the European and Asian, consumer, the author adds little that has not already been mentioned by Robert Heinberg, Lester Brown and James Howard Kunstler. However from his experience with the '350' campaign and community activism he does promote the importance and practical creation of 'lifeboats', the re-emergence of community, residents supporting residents and community investment in community facilities. A network of local businesses, baker, butcher, green grocer, clothes, books, CTN, diner, tool shop, energy supplier, bicycle shop, doctor, dentist, accountant, web designer, electrician, schools, teachers, etc. supporting local agriculture (food, fruit, green energy) all within a 20-minute walk, 30-minute cycle of the local population. Looking out from his Vermont home he surveys an American homeland which has practically been destroyed by the greed of a few in the name of public efficiency; the destruction of walk-able small town life by 'out-of-town' 'stack 'em high sell 'em cheap' brand name hypermarkets reachable only by private cars after a 10/20/30-mile drive; the sprawl of low density housing no longer within walking/hailing distance of neighbours, the absence of neighbourhood shopping or even public transport routes. The author strongly suggests that the health and financial benefits of local spending and employment in the community and horticulture farms outweighs by a big margin the cheapness and sameness of anonymous distant hypermarkets, 20 miles to buy a lettuce or dinner. It's a 'chicken and egg' question, but can community 'lifeboats' replace the anonymous hypermarket before the fuel crisis limits globalisation in the mid-21st century? Books like this are bringing an individual choice to the future.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wiser path, 13 Sep 2009
By 
P. A. Strong (Barcelona) - See all my reviews
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Deep Economy helps to debunk the myth of continuous economic growth as neither sustainable, nor the route human happiness. It suggests a wiser path to a world in which we can all thrive on a delicate planet with limited resources.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 27 Jan 2008
This is one of the best books I've read in years. Think that our current corporate consumer obsessed economy is faulty, then this is the tonic.

This book raises questions about the obsession of the political and business elite with endless economic growth as a be all and end all. It does this on several grounds; first the well known enviromental objections. Secondly, that due to the neoliberal policies of the last 30 years the proceeds of growth are going mostly to a wealthy minority, and the majority are seeing liitle benefit. But perhaps more importantly, it raises a more important point that although we in the west have grown substantially richer over the last 50 years our satisfaction has barely altered.

And in fact it argues, our obsession with efficiency and growth at all costs may have actually made us more alienated and unhappy. Why? Because efficiencies of scale in manufacturing and retail, which may have made our economies more 'efficient' in the conventional sense, have destroyed local businesses and local economies and therefore ripped the heart out of local communities, leaving people increasingly alienated and atomised, which a large body of evidence suggests has made us less happy.

The solution, he argues, is to tip the balance away from growth-at-all-costs and towards supporting smaller-scale local economies, which although may be less 'efficient' in the conventional sense, would lead to greater satisfaction.

Bill Mckibben however goes out of his way to stress that in developing countries, economic growth is still nessesary to lift their populations out of poverty. However its continued pursuit in already wealthy countries has been producing ever diminishing returns, and may have become socially and environmentally self-defeating.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic., 17 April 2013
By 
Mrs. J. Shelley (UK Essex) - See all my reviews
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Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future (Paperback)
Written in 2007 before the great global economic crash
but covering all the reasons why it was inevitable.
The ideas in it are much more widespread now but still well worth spreading further.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars accessible, convincing but too brief, 17 Nov 2010
By 
Ronald G. Young (carpathian mountains) - See all my reviews
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This is an easy, convincing and enjoyable essay - which figures high in my list of recommended reading for those not familiar with writing about the practicalities of (and justification for) going local. Many passages were heavily pencilled in my first reading last year - and I have just reread it with enjoyment and benefit. Just a few small quibbles. First it should include more references to others pushing the same agenda (from The Breakdown of Nationsthrough to Guy Dauncy and The Growth Illusion: How Economic Growth Has Enriched the Few, Impoverished the Many and Endangered the Planet). Secondly, it makes things sound too easy - too many short, positive stories with no real sense of the difficulties which can be placed in the way of such ventures and whether in fact this adds up to a global alternative strategy.
If the book succeeds in persuading more Americans (for the last few pages make it clear that this is the audience) adopt the simpler life, such omissions can be forgiven. But imagining that Adam Smith lived in England (p123) is less forgiveable!
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Gloomy world, 21 May 2012
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The greens have a problem, and its called China. This single country has been powering away for many years now in manufacturing products the world wants to buy, and at the same time lifting her people from poverty and hunger. This is a great story, and one which many other developing countries (especially in Africa) want to emulate. It has achieved much of that growth by using coal to generate low cost electricity, as has India and also Indonesia. But the prophets of doom, such as the author of this book, McKibben, seem to resent the way its has been done. They argue that the planet is running dry on oil, coal and gas (just for starters) and the burning of these fuels is also polluting the atmosphere with CO2, which, they say is warming the earth. Based on the flawed IPCC reports, they see CO2 as the great polluting gas which is bringing life on earth to a premature end. Reality check: CO2 is a life enhancing gas and essential for plant life. It is a very mild greenhouse gas, water vapour and aerosol being much more effective in trapping the suns heat, and so making a planet warm enough for life to be sustained. The theory of AGW is based on naive computer models which replace natural climate cycles by random noise, so are inherently unsafe to rely on for predictions of the climate in the future. There is much controversy within climatology itself about AGW, and there is no consensus about the way the climate works, as shown by recent books by respected climatologists Carter Climate: the Counter-consensus (Independent Minds), Plimer Heaven and Earth: Global Warming, the Missing Science and Taylor Chill, A Reassessment of Global Warming Theory: Does Climate Change Mean the World is Cooling, and If So What Should We Do About It?. The flimsy nature of the IPCC predictions is shown by the current cooling in the climate, quite unforeseen by the IPCC models.

To be fair to the author, he has visited China to see for himself their progress, but his vision is clouded by preconceptions, and of course he only sees the downside and ignores the upside. By advocating renewable energy sources, he has been seduced by spurious arguments of CO2 alarmism, a view shared, unfortunately, by Europe in the form of the EU (governed by an undemocratic elite at the EC in Brussels). He thus sees the EU as a model for the world, despite the fact that the world thinks otherwise (and has vetoed any attempts to limit use of carbon resources). In fact, Europe is itself now in deep trouble, partly because of a failing currency (Eurogeddon) but also from the adoption of futile carbon taxes. They are placing an increasing and unjustified burden on EU manufacturing, making their products uncompetitive with the rest of the world. As the crisis in Europe deepens, there will be much pressure on this stupid and regressive industrial policy, especially as consumers have to bear much of the burden in the form of extra costs of coal, gas and oil. Those resources are not running dry either, with the development of new extraction methods such as fracking, the discovery of yet more super oil fields, and the growth in our knowledge of the vast coal reserves in the world. Perhaps McKibben should visit Wyoming, where the coal seams in the Powder River basin are some 100 feet thick, ten times the thickness of the best seams in Europe. This is a thoughtful but deeply biased book, reaching unsustainable conclusions.
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Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future
Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben (Paperback - 4 Mar 2008)
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