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Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  3,534 Ratings  ·  436 Reviews
The bestselling author of The End of Nature issues an impassioned call to arms for an economy that creates community and ennobles our livesIn this powerful and provocative manifesto, Bill McKibben offers the biggest challenge in a generation to the prevailing view of our economy.

For the first time in human history, he observes, “more” is no longer synonymous with “better”
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by Times Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Margy Levine Young That's very much what this book is about. We think we need to sacrifice the environment in order to have a vibrant economy and we need a vibrant…moreThat's very much what this book is about. We think we need to sacrifice the environment in order to have a vibrant economy and we need a vibrant economy to be happy -- but this book makes the case that both assumptions are wrong.(less)

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Jul 08, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: econ
I had very high expectations for this book, perhaps that's why I ended up disliking it so much. I almost want to read it again just so I can tally up all of its faults. First off, the author should have had an economist review it. For being a book about the economy, I found its treatment of economics very poor. Anyone with a different viewpoint on economics could poke car-sized holes through most of his arguments. The vast majority of his evidence for various points he tries to make is anecdotal ...more
Apr 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who lives in a capitalist consumer based economy
Everyone in the world should read this book and everyone who lives in a consumer obsessed society like the United States should be forced too. I'm only half way through this book and already know that this is possibly one of the most important books I have read in my life. Not only does it clearly and logically present everything that is wrong with our obsessiveness with producing more and doing it faster, which most every socially conscious person is already aware of, it also lays out very clea ...more
May 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: environment
The book was published in 2007, so it is interesting to see just how McKibben may have been on the right track with his opinions.

One of his main points is to show how shifting to local economies will mean less stuff but more durability.

Part I: After Growth

Quote by John Maynard Keynes: "say, two thousand years before Christ down to the beginning of the eighteenth century, there was really no great change in the standard of living of the average man in the civilized centers of the earth. Ups and
Dec 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was my first book written by Bill McKibben, a journalist and environmentalist. I think I have been wanting to lighten my carbon footprint but needed a little guidance on how to go about doing it. Living in Europe has opened me to be more accepting of local suppliers and retailers; the fact that shopping at our base commissary is a chore could be another reason I am happy to buy and live the European way. So it should come as no surprise that the chapters dealing with American style of agric ...more
Jul 19, 2008 rated it it was ok
If you've never been exposed to environmentalism or green philosophy this work can serve as a general introduction. But, frankly, who hasn't been exposed to this stuff?

A thin work of popular journalism with no substantive economic analysis at all.
Doug Forrester
Sep 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
When I saw the title "Deep Economy" I had a sort of fascination as if I were watching a train wreck.

Surely it would be pushing for radical socialism for the sake of radical environmentalism. Instead Bill McKibben wrote a book I'm still grappling with.

His first line of attack is economic growth itself.

First he argues economic growth is unsustainable. This is his strongest argument in the short-term but his weakest argument over-the-long haul.

There are alternatives to fossil fuel when it becomes t
Oct 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I picked up Deep Economy as a sort of economic primer, hoping to become a bit more fluent in the language of acquisitions and nets and grosses. I also hoped that Bill McKibben would help me find a better response to those who still haven't converted to the cult of buying local. And in the first chapter, Bill McKibben clarifies GDP and GNP just enough to then claim that economics is much, much more than acronyms that try to measure the quest for monetary growth. Part personal challenge, part econ ...more
Apr 06, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: over-eager liberals
I really enjoyed the chapter on local food and McKibben's analysis of the heavy oil inputs into our subsidized corn-fed food chain. Otherwise, this is a cliche and shrill regurgitation of the already nauseating _Bowling Alone_, Michael Pollan's excellent _Omnivore's Dilemma_, and all anti-Wal-Mart sentiment that comes from overeducated champagne liberals in small towns like Middlebury, VT, Boulder, CO and Ann Arbor, MI.

Gracie Brett
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a really great book— but I’m giving it four stars just because McKibben never mentioned socialism. I totally agree that our economy cannot continue to grow on a finite planet, but capitalism requires growth. Thus, the only logical way out is ecosocialism. I always say there’s two things every environmentalist should be: socialist and vegan. Still a great read, I love mckibben!
Apr 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melissa Robinson
Sep 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
McKibben's premise is fairly simple. Our current economic model is based on encouraging as much growth as possible. McKibben contends that the equation more = better is simply not true any longer. Encouraging growth at all costs has been the American way since the Industrial Revolution and it served us extremely well for quite awhile. Additionally, it is still an important economic model for developing nations who haven't yet reached a comfortable standard of living for most of their citizens. B ...more
Jan 07, 2009 added it
Shelves: interviewees
Read the STOP SMILING interview with Deep Economy author Bill McKibben:

(This interview originally appeared in the STOP SMILING Gambling Issue)

In 12 books and countless magazine articles written over the last quarter century, Bill McKibben has tracked and suggested a way to alleviate the impact of human life on the natural world. In doing so, he has emerged as one of our most trenchant environmental writers and campaigners: Over the past few years, he has organized the largest demonstrations agai
Jan 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: unemployed MBAs, members of the Green Party, environmentalists
Shelves: non-fiction
McKibben presents a view that I have increasingly found myself taking lately: why can't we just have enough instead of making ourselves crazy and our world toxic struggling to have more? He does a wonderful job of making the philosophical argument for slowing down. I don't have sufficient economic knowledge to judge his arguments in that realm. I found his anecdotal evidence compelling, but I could not easily discern how these small projects and groups might have scaled up. Also, I would have li ...more
Nov 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone rethinking how we do business in relation to the environment and community
McKibben explores the moral consequences of hyperindividualism where ones own pursuits limits the freedoms of others. He shows how we are literally consuming ourselves out of existence.

He documents the trend of our culture moving towards a community oriented life and demonstrates that our current economic models do not adequately account for our happyness and quality of life.

This is not a doom and gloom book, rather the author points to emerging trends that suggest that we our slowly moving away
Robert Wechsler
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is much better than it could have been. McKibben has an excellent way of getting ideas across, not only through concrete examples, but also in the language he uses to capture the abstract. There were only a few places where I found myself skimming, because he was covering well-trod ground or going into too much detail.

The book is about creating an alternative to growth and international trade by focusing on values and things local. But McKibben is a realist; rarely do his values take h
Tamara Prosper
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book a few years and I'm reading it again now. Much of what was forecast when the book was written is happening now. It's very informative.
Dec 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
written 2007 - how does it stand up, and does one need to be a PhD economist to write about economics?

my biased answers:
1) pretty well
2) no
184 if chinese ate meat as we do, they'd use 2/3 of world grain; if they ... autos, all the oil produced.
IOW, our econ won't work for China. India is predicted to pass China pop. by 2030

188 growth in China: pollution in their cities, loss of jobs rest of world
189 eg, Mexico manufact. jobs => China and India
[TG - the econ models say this
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The rise of a new economics. That is what McKibben succeeds in describing through Deep Economy. After years of the 'Cult of Growth' dominating modern US politics, the Vermont environmental writer argues that its time we invest in our communities. Perhaps the wonders of globalization argued for by the likes of Friedman, Krugman and countless others are really just creating an illusion of wealth, economic growth that is merely overshoot and and consistent undermining of the communities that build ...more
Preston Kutney
Growth and efficiency are the twin pillars of capitalist economic theory. The coupling of "more" and "better" has driven political theory and economic thought for decades. But today we are bumping up against the effective limits of this thinking. Growth and efficiency have 3 key limitations that prohibit their continued place as the central goals of industry and commerce:

1) growth is no longer making most people wealthier, but instead generating inequality and insecurity. Efficiency is often dri
Dec 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
McKibben does a good job I think of confronting the assumption that growth is necessary for the economy. The cult of growth, which has held thorough control over media and government perspectives on economic policy accepts no counter policy for debate. Alternative measures to "save" the economy may be discussed, but few politicians or media mouthpieces dare to question the necessity of growth altogether.

The cult of growth claims that GDP growth provides progress, which makes the expansion of wea
Feb 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to David by: Janelle
Shelves: 2009, nonfiction, science
Deep Economy will force you to reevaluate your purchasing patterns and (hopefully) your consumer behavior. He illustrates that the current economic model most nations are using may end up with many more losers than winners. While the world is growing at an enormous rate, we are consuming at an enormous rate. He illustrates how unsustainable this is for the US and the arsenal of countries on the verge of becoming developed.

In exchange, he offers a new way of looking at economics. He develops a mo
In this eminently readable text, McKibben pleads for a resolution to the current economic madness involving constant (and unsustainable) growth, by moving towards a model based on local initiatives that bring back life to communities now being shredded by the doctrines of globalization and free trade. Although he has been criticized as a lightweight back-to-the-lander and fear-mongerer by right-wing pundits, he has successfully combined an understanding of what "land" can mean (in both western a ...more
Jul 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I added this book to my "to-read" list just a couple of years after it came out, and then it just sort of got lost in the shuffle. I should add that my TRL is just short of 1000 books now, so it's not implausible that this even happened. Still, I wish I'd gotten to it sooner, even though it's even more important now than it was then if that's possible.

McKibben is showing us the power of community and how it can help us, how it has helped others, and why that's a necessity for the future of the
Adam Cherson
Dec 31, 2013 rated it liked it
I rate this book a 3.49 on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being best.

"Cheap oil has meant cheap synthetic fertilizer, big tractors, and everything else we associate with modern agriculture. You get more food per acre with small farms; more food per dollar with big ones."

"Ever wonder why soybean products can be found in two-thirds of all processed food? It may have something to do with the fact that “about seventy percent of the value of the American soy bean comes straight from the U.S. government.” D
Bookmarks Magazine

In offering straightforward solutions to the looming environmental crisis, Bill McKibben has marched directly into the middle of a heated debate. Critics' personal beliefs and politics shaped their reviews, which described Deep Economy as, alternately, a "masterfully crafted, deeply thoughtful and mind-expanding treatise" (Los Angeles Times) and a "book-length sermon on what is wrong with the way we live" (San Francisco Chronicle). Some reviewers found McKibben's solutions practical and the auth

May 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Second time I read it, had completely forgotten it, although it's generally good and I tend to mostly agree with McKibben. Opening is about three issues facing humanity: peak oil, global warming, and lack of increased happiness with current economic system. His main argument is that the current economic system is not sustainable because 1) it's totally dependent on oil, 2) it's ruining the environment, and 3) it's not making us any happier. He rails against modern capitalism (scaling up, homogen ...more
Jul 13, 2009 rated it liked it
Thomas Friedman from a more of a lefty/environmental perspective. Lots of nice uplifting anecdotes about local responses to globalization and the "modern" economy. Basically his argument comes down to the idea that we need more community-based economy, and to stop focusing on "growth" and our myopic view of "efficiency". These are not really new ideas, but he does a decent job of looking at the bigger picture of economics and society. I liked his analysis of Wal-Mart.

Overall though, he doesn't c
Aug 14, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: environment
As in The End of Nature, McKibben shows awareness that deep changes are needed if human civilization is to survive, yet his whole outlook is so circumscribed by capitalist society that he cannot conceive of anything beyond a commodity economy. Thus everything--including the dominant theme of resuscitating local community as against the domination of impersonal, totally market-driven corporate depredation--turns into a question of "values." That does not mean economic value and the need to abolis ...more
Apr 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Throughly engrossing, thought-provoking and full of great ideas about how to change your life in a world of globilization, Bill McKibben's book might just be in my Top Ten Life-Changing Books of all time. His thesis is simple: consume less, buy local (grow your own if you can), become part of a community and live with Thoreavian purpose. He describes with frightening clarity how large corporations and the government have destroyed the little guy and stripped us of what makes our lives most meani ...more
Jenny Earnest
Jan 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I'm a huge fan of dystopian literature, but this piece of environmental non-fiction has caused me to realize that the two genres have become indistinguishable. While I greatly appreciate the optimism and hope present in this book, it has also (thankfully) served as a harsh wake up call for my casual indifference towards the environment prior to reading Deep Economy. If you are just getting into environmental non-fiction or if you are interested in communities and the economy, or even if you are ...more
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Local Currency 7 46 Sep 03, 2009 01:50AM  
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Bill McKibben is the author of Eaarth, The End of Nature, Deep Economy, Enough, Fight Global Warming Now, The Bill McKibben Reader, and numerous other books. He is the founder of the environmental organizations Step It Up and, and was among the first to warn of the dangers of global warming. In 2010 The Boston Globe called him "probably the nation's leading environmentalist," and Time maga ...more
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