Thinking about the ways we can honor the Earth and improve our lives is a full time activity for author and Earth activist Bill McKibben. In the ten years since his first book, The End of Nature, was published, McKibben has been a non-stop one-man-army, writing and editing more then a dozen books, reviewing for the New Yorker, Slate, Boston Globe and New York Times, plus lecturing and touring across the world. The End of Nature is a well regarded classic, comparable to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. It is the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has been printed in more than 20 languages. The book’s recently been reissued in a 10th anniversary edition.
We are delighted to be helping supply books for his appearance at the Gross Pointe Libaray on April 9th. If it is possible for you to attend this lecture do it. His talk, “The Most Important Number in the World: Saving the Planet and Maybe Even the Auto Industry,” will take place on Thursday, April 9, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial. He will be focusing on the current financial crisis and the potential of a green economy as part of the economic recovery, as well as job creation in industries such as wind and solar energy, transportation, construction and food production. His message is one of hope and clarity. Admission is free, but a ticket is required. Tickets can be reserved by calling the Grosse Pointe Central Library at 313-343-2074 x220.
His latest book, Deep Economy:The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future was published in 2007. In Deep Economy, McKibben puts forward a new way to think about the things we buy, the food we eat, the energy we use, and the money that pays for it all. Our purchases, he says, need not be at odds with the things we truly value. The animating idea of Deep Economy is that we need to move beyond “growth” as the paramount economic ideal and pursue prosperity in a more local direction — relying more on locally grown foods, energy and culture.
McKibbin’s experiment of a year spent eating locally is covered in one chapter, as he digs into new urban farming, and the explosion of local farmer’s markets. He also tells the sad tale of how surplus industrial food is dumped into our public school systems, which explains what McKibben describes as the endless “Sloppy Joe monotony of lunch lines across the country…. the problem is cheap, fast, easy food doesn’t deliver”. He suggests shifting or ending the subsidized industrial farming practices and giving support directly to farmers who support the local economy.
This idea is extended in chapters that deal with energy and communication, where the viability of local radio, NPR, bicycle propelled cities (Holland), local currency, community living and high quality mass-transit are more than just pipe-dreams. McKibben knows better than anyone, that we are less than an inch away from disaster and points to every mistake and flaw in the system, yet he’s also a person with smart solutions and political savvy. His influence was most pronounced on Vice-President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore who has quoted from and endorsed McKibben in numerous lectures and books.
The underlying message in Mckibben’s work is that there is an abundance of hope and people of vision in the world. There may be no perfect order, but there are lessons to learn. From Europe, whose cultured people work to live and not live to work, to Kerala, a poor section in India that has achieved the highest literacy rate in the world and a longer life expectancy then in America. Hope is an important commodity today, and McKibben offers it up in big helpings. We need to only listen and act. Deep Economy is an important manifesto for our times.
From an article in The Nation: The author of a dozen books and countless magazine articles, McKibben is ubiquitous on the sustainability scene–the go-to environmentalist for keynote speeches, forewords, blurbs and anthologies. He has now compiled a collection of selected work, The Bill McKibben Reader, and it reveals a writer whose environmentalism runs deeper than the mainstream versions he’s helped to inspire. The contemporary “green” resurgence is still largely limited to small-bore economic and personal adjustments–hybrid vehicles, cap-and-trade proposals, solar panels. McKibben’s environmentalism, by contrast, is essentially religious: a guiding set of beliefs about what humans owe to a sacred source of life.
We were recently lucky to locate a small supply of Deep Economy and The Bill McKibben Reader as publisher remainders, and are be able to pass on a substantial savings to our customers and those who attend the lecture. We hope to see you at Bill’s talk April 9th. Please call to reserve signed books. Earth Day is April 22nd — and now is a good time to consider and reflect on our carbon footprint and our impact on the environment.
350.org is an international campaign dedicated to building a movement to unite the world
around solutions to the climate crisis–the solutions that justice demands. Join the 350 movement and watch this short Bill McKibben video (350 seconds on 350):