Deep Economy by Bill McKibben gives an insight into the current United States economy and how the future of the nation is in danger if the current economic processes continue being followed. Bill McKibben describes that the United States has become obsessed with getting more material items rather than acquiring better items necessary for their lives. McKibbens further discusses the current economic processes, their shortcomings, and how the country can rectify them to prevent the collapse of the United States.
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In his first chapter, After Growth, McKibben criticizes the model of growth that the United States has adopted. McKibbens mainly presents three arguments that go against growth. Growth creates more inequality and insecurity (11). The political superior is the only member of the society that benefits from the expansion, while most of the population is wallowing in poverty and receiving substandard services essential for their living.
Second, McKibben makes arguments that draw Physics and Chemistry on their explanations. Modern society heavily relies on oil which pollutes the environment. Oil is the major supplier of energy for the United States. However, the oil will for sure deplete, and the United States will no longer be able to afford the efficiency that it is witnessing right now (11). Oil further negatively affects the environment and is thus dangerous for the environment in the long run. McKibbens wonders how we will continue operating when the oil depletes, and we remain with a world damaged through pollution.
Third, McKibbens draws on the analogy that happiness levels are continuing to decrease as the world advances. McKibbens cites that growth is no longer making us happy (11). Throughout the years, happiness levels all across the United States have been declining. Growth, on the other hand, has maintained steady growth. People are thinking of how they can make more instead of improving their lives quality.
In his second chapter, The Year of Eating Locally, McKibbens stresses the benefits of taking locally made foods. Local foods are those available within a 25 to 100-mile radius. McKibben says that locally produced foods pollute the environment less, are cheaper and are even tastier than foreign-sourced foods (90). By consuming locally sourced foods, people will buy from local small businesses and help uplift producers that sustain the environment.
Local sourcing of foods will help eliminate the risk of collapse the United States is bound to face by eliminating the use of oil in production. The current inequality issues that face the United States will also be dealt with when people buy from their locals, as development and growth will become even. Therefore, local sourcing of foods helps in the following two significant ways: reducing the consumption of oil, and thus less environmental pollution, and creating a level ground for everyone to grow.
In the third chapter, All for One, or One for All, McKibbens talks about individualism and the community. McKibben discusses that with the industrial revolution came positives and negatives for both the community and individuals (96). The courses led to the adoption of ideas such as democracy and the appreciation of women’s rights. However, it has also led to people wanting to make things for themselves, and thus the use of fossil fuel and other environmentally degrading items negatively affect the environment (96). People have embraced hyper-individualism rather than simple individualism and have forsaken the community.
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McKibbins uses an example of the urbanization that the United States has experienced. McKibbins notes that in the 1920s, suburbs and towns had ten people living on every acre of land (97). As the population almost doubled in 1990, people living per acre of land in the urban and suburbs dropped to 4 (97). Further, the sizes of the houses have almost doubled in size, with the number of people living in them reducing. The essence of the community as was once in the past is diminishing, and people are now only thinking about themselves, which is dangerous for the United States.
McKibbins suggests that to counter the effects that hyper-individualism is threatening to pose on the United States, the people should adopt a more local scale approach to economics (McKibbens 107). The local economic system would require few resources and would be friendly to the ecosystem. Such an economy would connect more people that are within reach of one another. Thus, a balance between the community and the individual would be struck, leading to life satisfaction (McKibbens 108). Further, the local economies would eliminate the inequalities faced in the current society since people start feeling responsible for their neighbors rather than work for themselves and expect their achievements to trickle down to the others that will now be below them.
Chapter five, The Wealth of Communities, has McKibben explaining what a community is and how the nation can use it in America to ensure that the country can sustain itself throughout the future. McKibbens describes a community as small enough for everyone to know each other and big enough to provide a sound gene pool (140). McKibben encourages the communities to sustain themselves through farming, using sustainable energy sources, and creating systems that work for them, such as a communication tool of a local radio station (142). When such communities have been able to sustain themselves, they can join together and form a larger community that will further sustain itself (McKibbens 170). The larger community will be the country, the United States of America.
The final chapter, The Durable Future, heavily involves McKibben invoking the use of examples from other parts of the world. McKibben uses examples that prove his claims about how the United States can benefit from minimizing pollution and using natural resources and embracing the community bond rather than individualism (223). The two significant places he uses are Yiwu, a city in China that is bound to collapse, and Kerala, a thriving locality in India.
People in Yiwu no longer make profits from the farm, and they have all abandoned the farms for the city. The Chinese people in Yiwu, according to McKibbens are taking a huge risk. They would collapse since, in the future, the natural resources will be depleted, and the cities cannot sustain themselves due to the lack of energy (McKibbens 188-194). Soon, they will also start importing grain from other parts of the world, which will be expensive. According to world standards, Kerala is considered a poor locality in India (221). However, they produce their food without using chemicals, and they register high levels of happiness, life expectancy, and even literacy rates.
The solutions by McKibbens in addressing the issues that will lead to the impending collapse of the United States are all feasible. McKibbens emphasizes people finding connections through communities and avoiding the use of other sources of energy that pollute the environment and will, in the end, deplete, causing further harm to the nation (222). McKibbin’s arguments are also further validated by the examples he employs in explaining them. He draws examples from thriving communities and the communities that have failed and relate them to how best the United States can help itself.
Further, McKibben suggests that some of the ideas that can help the United States are being deployed to the current society. Governments and organizations are focusing on green energy that does not pollute the environment for functioning. Further, green energy, such as the sun, does not deplete. McKibbens discusses that the United States will collapse if they continue depending on energy sources such as oil, and the United States has responded swiftly by adopting other sources of energy that will ensure its longevity (221). Thus, the adoption of ideas by McKibbens only suggests that his views are sound and that they will work.
McKibbens discusses that people in the United States have become hyper-individualistic. Such people move to the cities when they find avenues that they can improve themselves. Thus, cities become overpopulated, with only a few people affording proper housing. The rural, which holds high potential, fails to realize the possibility that it has. The United States can address such a problem by shifting its focus to rural development. The most developed place in the United States is rural. When the action is improved for the rural area, people will cease moving from the rural and start residing in rural areas. Thus, the United States will ramp up production and will quickly implement local economies.
In conclusion, Deep Economy by Bill McKibbens shows the United States’ challenges and how the nation can overcome them. The major talking points by Bill McKibbens are the use of oil for energy and the individualism that people have adopted in the United States. McKibbens believes the United States will shield itself from the impending collapse by using other sources of energy that do not pollute the environment. Moreover, the belief is supported by the U.S finding other sources that will not deplete, and the embracement of organizing people in communities.
McKibben, Bill. Deep Economy. Oneworld Publications, 2007.