Since the publication of "The End of Nature" in 1987, Bill McKibben has been a premier mind in environmentalism. Bill's most recent book, Deep Economy, helped me re-think the world in powerful ways, by asking one simple question, "What is the relationship between 'more' and 'better.'" Bill came up with some pretty exciting answers, and they form the basis of what he calls the Deep Economy.
EcoGeek: What is the Deep Economy, and why do we need it?
Bill Mckibben: We need an economy that asks questions other than "how can I make it bigger?" the two key additional questions: "how can the economy make us more satisfied with our lives?" and, in an age of ecological peril, "how can the economy assure some durability for our communities?"
EG: What scares your pants off?
BM: Well, I wrote the first book about global warming, way back in 1989, and it was called The End of Nature. That was scary enough for one lifetime -- now I'm hard to rattle.EG: What roll does the internet play in the Deep Economy?
BM: Crucial. It allows people to live in tight, close, more economically self-sufficient communities without being stifled--there's always a window open to the wider world. Earlier this year I helped organize the largest grassroots environmental protest since Earth Day 1970. But isntead of a march on Washington, we had 1,400 marches across the country. (see stepitup07.org). there's no way we could have organized it without the net, nor linked it together afterwards to be more than the sum of its parts.Continue Reading
EG: Can you talk a bit about the dangers of what you call "hyper-individualism?"
BM: A few weeks ago the New York Times ran a story about the new trend in upscale housing in America: dual master bedrooms, because maybe the husband might snore or the wife pull the blankets off. I think our preoccupation with our own damn selves has reached the level of tragicomedy when it involves each of us hunkered down in our own suite, staring out at our mates across the hall.
EG: While reducing emphasis on individualism would slow our unsupportable growth, do you think that we might need ultra-ambitious hyper-individuals to create world-changing technologies and businesses?
BM: I doubt we'll run out of them any time soon. I would like to contain their energy in economic forms that mean they might help community life, not damage it.
EG: What kinds of opportunities could the Deep Economy open up for personal satisfaction, security and success?
BM: A more local economy would increase the possibilities for connection, which the data shows is what we most feel the lack of. Consider the difference between going to a supermarket and a farmers market. Fresher food, and better support for the local economy drive some of the traffic that make farmers markets the fastest growing part of our economy, but it's also because it's a different experience -- one team of sociologists found the average shopper had ten times as many conversations at the farmer's market.
EG: You refer to new farming technologies as "perhaps the most exciting inventions of our age," possibly more important even than the internet. What kinds of innovations and inventions in agriculture should we be excited about?
BM: Green manures, re-building soil, biological controls on pests--all the low-tech, low-input ideas that replace petroleum and pesticide with wit and information, and pay off in allowing peasant farmers to make good lives (and good humus).EG: Deep Economy and your recent Step it Up campaign gave me a lot of hope and optimism from places I'd never found them. What gives you hope, what makes you optimistic?
BM: Increasing involvement of young people in this movement. Just came back from helping launch Climate Summer (climatesummer.org) in New Hampshire. Brave, good-hearted, talented kids!
You can get Deep Economy online right now..But Bill would much rather you go down to your local book store.
written by GranThor, June 20, 2007
written by Adam, June 20, 2007
written by Harvey, May 20, 2008
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