The other night I attended an interview of Authors Bill McKibben and Paul Hawken. I had just finished Bill McKibben’s excellent book, “Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future,” and was anxious to meet him and hear what he had to say. I had not read anything by Paul Hawken and he sounded interesting, but I’ll concentrate on McKibben’s work here.
Bill McKibben has written several books, but what he talked about in the interview was pretty much what was in Deep Economy. Mostly, McKibben advocates for smaller scale, more local economies and against globalization. His arguments take several forms.
As can be seen in many books of this general class, McKibben points out the waste involved (fuel, carbon output, etc) in global transport of food and other goods. In fact he talks about food quite a bit and gives many points to boost local farmers’ markets. He talks about something that is known to students of sustainability, but not the general public: that large, so-called “factory” farms actually produce considerably LESS food than smaller farms tended to closely by individual farmers with smaller-scale machinery. This is largely due to intimate knowledge of the variations in the land and to the ability to “intercrop,” or to plant one crop alongside or maybe in the shade of another. Large-scale machine farming makes both of these impractical.
But what is unique (or at least uncommon) about McKibben’s perspective is his attention to the social costs of globalization and the benefits of returning to local economies. He points out how our mobile economy has led to less socialization among neighbors, and people in general.
I can’t do it justice here, but Deep Economy is well worth reading. There’s a lot more to it but it’s not too difficult. Don’t be put off by the title, it’s written for non-economists. Bill McKibben is the founder of 350.org (focused on climate change and actually doing something about it) which is organizing a huge, worldwide day of action called “Moving Planet” on Saturday, September 24th. Go to the website www.moving-planet.org and find out what’s happening near you.
Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.
Tom also posts on thrustblog.blogspot.com