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Friday, August 24, 2007

Deep Economy - hope for our future

I do try my best to keep up on relevant reading to the extent my pocket book and Newmarket's library will let me, so I was glad to find Deep Economy by Bill McKibben on my recent visit.

Deep Economy is an intriguing book that looks at the standard model of endless economic growth and the problems associated with it in the context of climate change, resource depletion and the rampant "Hyper individualism" of the capitalist west. The average house has doubled in size in 30 years while families have shrunk. We work more, travel more, make more money and yet we are increasingly isolated, less happy and unfulfilled for our efforts.
The system he describes is not attainable, sustainable and not even desirable for the entire world and is destined to collapse and likely quite soon.

Scattered throughout the book are examples of how new and in some cases very old economic relationships in communities can establish prosperity with a smaller more sustainable carbon foot print and increased satisfaction. Mckibben's stories, derived from his travels show how communities when measured by GDP would actually show stagnation or decline and yet can improve the environment, increase health, education, and happiness through local initiatives. Other experiments such as local currencies, urban farming, transit that works, local power generation, cooperative stores, and co-housing to mention a few can offer opportunities, increase local wealth all without the corporate mega mall sucking a community dry

While McKibben does not end the book with a definitive fix for the problems he does show us enough to question the real validity of a economic system that believes progress and utility are only measured by GDP. McKibben also gives us hope that small answers can help solve big problems and that acting locally can make a difference and in the end may be our best hope of sustainability.

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Michalis said...
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Peter Dodson said...

Thanks for the suggestion GAB - I'll put it on my need to read list!

Val said...

That's why we need a quality of life measure - not just GDP.

If only we could agree on what should be part of a true Q of L index.