loricat: I'm finding that I want to get personal with this book. Every page has something that makes me think about my life, my practices...or makes me want to rant.
I think McKibben is certainly pushing the reader to personalize the challenges he sets forward with his narrative: how do I
respond to the growing economic disparity, ecological devastation, social deterioration and personal malaise described in the book? How does my life (consumption habits, career, political affiliations, entertainment choices, modes of transportation, community involvement, personal beliefs, relationships) exacerbate these problems and how does it lead toward some kinds of solutions?
I think the weakest part of McKibben's argument involves the third rung of his thesis: a growing economy does not guarantee an increase in personal happiness. I think it is weakest because of the subjective nature of the topic. Still, McKibben provides a variety of data, cross-cultural and across time, that certainly supports his thesis. More stuff does not always make us happy. Perhaps I'm already inclined to believe that, thus making his examples all the more persuasive.
I think the ecological component of his argument is strongest. The planet cannot sustain the current trajectory of economic growth. We simply cannot afford to continue our relationship with fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) without committing irreparable damage to the biosphere. Our current economic system is inextricably bound to fossil fuels: something has got to give. What am I
willing to change?
I think McKibben's argument regarding the decline of happiness is strongest when tied to the increase of ecological disaster.
irishrose: shouldn't we consider directing efforts at strengthening community rather than in retarding economic expansion, in the hopes that this will strengthen communities.
If economic expansion means more equals better, more reliance on fossil fuels, greater distance from food source to dinner plate, more behemoth agribusiness conglomerates, then I think we are weakening communities. I think we need intelligent economics, not economic expansion. We need localized, community centered economic systems that utilize the very best agricultural sciences, and foster genuine democratic participation and accountability.