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Deep Economy: Economics as if the World Mattered Hardcover – 28 Sep 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (28 Sept. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1851685960
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851685967
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 2.7 x 24.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 901,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Masterfully crafted, deeply thoughtful and mind-expanding. . . . An incisive critique of the unintended consequences of our . . . growth-oriented economy." (Los Angeles Times Book Review)

"What make McKibben's book stand out is the completeness of his arguments and his real-world approach to solutions." (USA Today)

“An eloquent presentation of the case for revising ideas of wellbeing in the direction of sustainability, away from the crude measures of commercial transactions … an engaging, easily read book which saves until the end a message with stupefying political consequences.” (Public, Guardian)

"You'll find a lot of books about economics on the shelves, and plenty about how to be greener - but this combines the two." (Scotsman)

"Injected with enthusiasm and a passion for changing ‘the way things are done’, this book explores eating locally produced food and reinvesting in flagging communities and holds lessons for everyone." (The Environmentalist (IEMA))


“The global economic system leaves millions of people without the basic necessities of life, such as safe, clean water. It is driving our planet to ecological destruction. McKibben offers an inspiring alternative economic vision that is green, just, humane and sustainable.” (Peter Tatchell - Green Party parliamentary candidate)

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4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Hardcover
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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