Friday, July 06, 2007
The premise of Bill McKibben's new book "Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future" is that the economic axiom "growth is good" is no longer true.
In a recent article from Mother Jones he states:
"Growth no longer makes most people wealthier, but instead generates inequality and insecurity. Growth is bumping up against physical limits so profound -- like climate change and peak oil -- that trying to keep expanding the economy may be not just impossible but also dangerous. And perhaps most surprisingly, growth no longer makes us happier. Given our current dogma, that's as bizarre an idea as proposing that gravity pushes apples skyward. But then, even Newtonian physics eventually shifted to acknowledge Einstein's more complicated universe."
Well, then the question arises if growth is no longer desirable, nor even possible, then what is good? What is the measure of true wealth and well being for all of us?
It's in Bill's title - the wealth of our interconnectedness, our community.
I find the analogy of a forest very helpful. You can have a monoculture agri-forest with one type of tree, and very few other species. With the same amount of land, water and sunlight an old growth forest has many, many species of plants. A whole community of beings interacting. The same amount of input of resources generates a community of interaction.
In the same way, if you go to a local Megamarket there are typically one or two convesations and interactions - "paper or plastic?", "credit or debit". On the other hand, a farmer's market provides the same amount of groceries, yet you have interactions with many farmers, neighbors, children, and you're supporting a local food system.
Josh Mailman, a serial eco-entrepreneur and massive sustainable business instigator speaks on his views on the matter.
"I'm much more sanguine about the impact that we've been able to have, but I don't want to discount the small acts. We have a need for small acts, and I consider the things I have done small acts, hopefully compassionate acts. To the extent that I've been able to make a contribution, it's been out of a desire to build community, realizing that I'm no more important - and I think in many ways less so - than some local activist. The real leaders are the people that are in there day after day, slugging it out, who have chosen something other than monetary gain, who are there because they are fed by the experience of community that they have."
Barbara Marx Hubbard said "If you do a planetary scan, you'll see that communities are forming everywhere, and these communities are each holding the collective coding as well as the blueprint for a specific mission. I think these communities as separate yet interactive organs in the social body. And the potent interaction of these organic communities assure that the larger social body will be far greater than the sum of its parts."
Our community is our greatest wealth, I would add. And we are the leaders of this movement. Each and every one of us.
As I reflect on my life, I see that my life depends on a vast network of people 99% who I don't event know, literally. Just think of the number of people it took for you to have your daily cup of tea or coffee, or piece of toast, or oatmeal, or electricity... and that's just people. Add layers of animals, plants, earth, energy, air and water, and the community you live in expands exponentially!
Photo from Connectingdotz.com
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
If you don't know about the superlative ecopranksters The Yes Men, please visit their website www.yesmen.org.
They pulled a really good one recently.
Their press release just arrived in my inbox this week, I'll let it speak for itself...
Simple genius and sobering truth.
June 14, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
EXXON PROPOSES BURNING HUMANITY FOR FUEL IF CLIMATE CALAMITY HITS
Conference organizer fails to have Yes Men arrested
Text of speech, photos, video: http://www.vivoleum.com/...
GO-EXPO statement: http://newswire.ca/...
Press conference before this event, Friday, Calgary: http://arusha.org/...
More links at end of release.
Imposters posing as ExxonMobil and National Petroleum Council (NPC)
representatives delivered an outrageous keynote speech to 300 oilmen
at GO-EXPO, Canada's largest oil conference, held at Stampede Park in
Calgary, Alberta, today.
The speech was billed beforehand by the GO-EXPO organizers as the
major highlight of this year's conference, which had 20,000
attendees. In it, the "NPC rep" was expected to deliver the long-awaited
conclusions of a study commissioned by US Energy Secretary
Samuel Bodman. The NPC is headed by former ExxonMobil CEO Lee
Raymond, who is also the chair of the study. (See link at end.)
In the actual speech, the "NPC rep" announced that current U.S. and
Canadian energy policies (notably the massive, carbon-intensive
exploitation of Alberta's oil sands, and the development of liquid
coal) are increasing the chances of huge global calamities. But he
reassured the audience that in the worst case scenario, the oil
industry could "keep fuel flowing" by transforming the billions of
people who die into oil.
"We need something like whales, but infinitely more abundant," said
"NPC rep" "Shepard Wolff" (actually Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men),
before describing the technology used to render human flesh into a
new Exxon oil product called Vivoleum. 3-D animations of the process
brought it to life.
"Vivoleum works in perfect synergy with the continued expansion of
fossil fuel production," noted "Exxon rep" "Florian Osenberg" (Yes
Man Mike Bonanno). "With more fossil fuels comes a greater chance of
disaster, but that means more feedstock for Vivoleum. Fuel will
continue to flow for those of us left."
The oilmen listened to the lecture with attention, and then lit
"commemorative candles" supposedly made of Vivoleum obtained from the
flesh of an "Exxon janitor" who died as a result of cleaning up a
toxic spill. The audience only reacted when the janitor, in a video
tribute, announced that he wished to be transformed into candles
after his death, and all became crystal-clear.
At that point, Simon Mellor, Commercial & Business Development
Director for the company putting on the event, strode up and
physically forced the Yes Men from the stage. As Mellor escorted
Bonanno out the door, a dozen journalists surrounded Bichlbaum, who,
still in character as "Shepard Wolff," explained to them the
rationale for Vivoleum.
"We've got to get ready. After all, fossil fuel development like that
of my company is increasing the chances of catastrophic climate
change, which could lead to massive calamities, causing migration and
conflicts that would likely disable the pipelines and oil wells.
Without oil we could no longer produce or transport food, and most of
humanity would starve. That would be a tragedy, but at least all
those bodies could be turned into fuel for the rest of us."
"We're not talking about killing anyone," added the "NPC rep." "We're
talking about using them after nature has done the hard work. After
all, 150,000 people already die from climate-change related effects
every year. That's only going to go up - maybe way, way up. Will it
all go to waste? That would be cruel."
Security guards then dragged Bichlbaum away from the reporters, and
he and Bonanno were detained until Calgary Police Service officers
could arrive. The policemen, determining that no major infractions
had been committed, permitted the Yes Men to leave.
Canada's oil sands, along with "liquid coal," are keystones of Bush's
Energy Security plan. Mining the oil sands is one of the dirtiest
forms of oil production and has turned Canada into one of the world's
worst carbon emitters. The production of "liquid coal" has twice the
carbon footprint as that of ordinary gasoline. Such technologies
increase the likelihood of massive climate catastrophes that will
condemn to death untold millions of people, mainly poor.
"If our idea of energy security is to increase the chances of climate
calamity, we have a very funny sense of what security really is,"
Bonanno said. "While ExxonMobil continues to post record profits,
they use their money to persuade governments to do nothing about
climate change. This is a crime against humanity."
"Putting the former Exxon CEO in charge of the NPC, and soliciting
his advice on our energy future, is like putting the wolf in charge
of the flock," said "Shepard Wolff" (Bichlbaum). "Exxon has done more
damage to the environment and to our chances of survival than any
other company on earth. Why should we let them determine our future?"
About the NPC and ExxonMobil: About the NPC and Exon Mobil
About the Alberta oil sands: About Alberta oil sands
About liquid coal: Sierra club on liquid coal