Re: Ch. 4 - The Wealth of Communities
In a sense, all discussion of local economies is about Fair Trade- about raising wheat and lettuce in a way that honors both farmer and soil; about growing timber in a way that allows loggers to work at a reasonable pace and in a living forest; about saving and producing energy in quantities that don't require military adventure and climatic upheaval. About giving up some measure of efficiency for other values. Some of this trade must take place at a distance; as much as possible should take place closer to home, where it saves more energy and builds tighter bonds. As this effort spreads, our politics will eventually start to change as well. In a world where more people paid attention to the lives of farmers here and abroad- met them at the market or on the Net- it would be hard to maintain the current system of corporate subsidies and ruinous "free trade" agreements. If fairness demands a slightly higher price, and if that means we need to get along with somewhat smaller quantities, I am confident we will eventually find a tradeoff work making. (176)
Fairness as the driving value, rooted in honoring the needs of those who labor to produce and deliver the goods we need to increase our happiness. The result is a kind of neighborliness where we take interest in and are held accountable to those we live close to and do business with. Sacrifice is accepted as normal, even essential...not simply as an effort to give up a little to somehow get even more- but as a way of life that lives more simply so that others may simply live....including oneself, who like everyone else, lives under the impending doom of catastrophic climate change.
Again, Mckibben in his characteristically positive and hopeful way, expresses his confidence that we will make the more intelligent and humane choice...sacrificing the efficiency of short term gain at a lower price for long term sustainability that costs more and delivers less stuff. McKibben argues that the richer parts of world can afford the demands of local economies because "our affluence allows a cushion for experimentation."
What remains to be seen is whether the larger portion of the world's impoverished can afford such a risk.
The unanswered question is whether a smaller and more local economy also makes sense for the rest of the world, or whether only endless expansion can provide dignified lives for the poorer half of humanity. (176)
McKibben makes a powerful case in the next chapter (The Durable Future) that endless expansion in China and India on the scale of US consumption is completely unsustainable...nor can it be continued here.