bill mckibben

bill mckibben



sept 2014:

watch disruption


deep economy

book links to amazon

published 2008

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deep economy on kindle notes

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, with cities, suburbs, and regions producing more of their own food, generating more of their own energy, and even creating more of their own culture and entertainment.

the more we nurture the essential humanity of our economy, the more we will recapture our own

We will have to make the biggest changes to our daily habits in generations—and the biggest change, as well, to our worldview, our sense of what constitutes progress.

ie: define success ness

The key questions will change from whether the economy produces an ever larger pile of stuff to whether it builds or undermines community—for community, it turns out, is the key to physical survival in our environmental predicament and also to human satisfaction

community is the curriculum ness – bunker

Focusing on economic growth, and assuming it would produce a better world, was extremely convenient; it let us stop thinking about ends and concentrate on means. It made economics as we know it now—a science of means—extraordinarily powerful. We could always choose our path by fixing our compass on More

It’s a quiet revolution begun by ordinary people with the stuff of our daily lives. Eventually it will take form as legislation, but for now its most important work is simply to crack the consensus that what we need is More

a qr filmliterally redefine policy et al

By the early twentieth century, increasing efficiency had become very nearly a religion, especially in the United States, where stopwatch-wielding experts like Frederick Taylor broke every task into its smallest parts, wiping out inefficiencies

Soon, as Jeremy Rifkin observes, the efficiency revolution encompassed everything, not just factory work but homemaking, schoolteaching, and all the other tasks of modern life: “efficiency became the ultimate tool for exploiting both the earth’s resources in order to advance material wealth and human progress.

As the nation’s school superintendents were warned at a meeting in 1912, “the call for efficiency is felt everywhere throughout the length and breadth of the land, and the demand is becoming more insistent every day.” As a result, “the schools as well as other business institutions, must submit to the test of efficiency.”5 It was a god from whom there was no appeal

The British prime minister Margaret Thatcher used to use the acronym TINA to underscore her contention that There Is No Alternative to a world fixated on growth

Growth is always the final answer, the untrumpable hand, and its logic keeps inequality growing, too

You can imagine global warming this way: all those pools of oil and beds of coal beneath our feet are being drilled and dug. Emptied. For a brief moment, the resulting energy burns and does something useful: moves your car, heats your shower. But after that instant of combustion, most of the carbon in the coal or oil mixes with oxygen in the air to form the gas carbon dioxide, which drifts into the atmosphere. (A gallon of gasoline weighs about six pounds, and when you burn it you release about five pounds of carbon into the atmosphere.) It accumulates in the atmosphere, creating almost a mirror image of the reservoir you drilled it from in the first place. Which is a problem, because the molecular structure of carbon dioxide traps heat from the sun that would otherwise radiate back out to space. That’s all global warming is—the gaseous remains of oil fields and coal beds acting like an insulating blanket

I talked them into letting me take economics as my foreign language.

In 1997, for instance, he joined with twelve coauthors to publish a paper in Nature that for the first time tried to set an economic value on “ecosystem services,” such as pollination and decomposition, that had always been counted as free. (Their estimate of the worth of these services was $33 trillion annually, far larger than the human economy taken all together.)

last two from Costanza

What does richer mean? Even if I am getting richer, am I getting happier?

TRADITIONALLY, IDEAS LIKE HAPPINESS AND SATISFACTION ARE the sorts of notions that economists wave aside as poetic irrelevancies, questions that occupy people with no head for numbers who have to major in something else at college. An orthodox economist can tell what makes someone happy by what they do. If they buy a Ford Expedition, then ipso facto a Ford Expedition is what makes them happy. That’s all you need to know

The economist calls this behavior “utility maximization”; in the words of the economic historian Gordon Bigelow, “The theory holds that every time a person buys something, sells something, quits a job, or invests, he is making a rational decision about what will . . . provide him ’maximum utility.

It is perhaps the central assumption of the world we live in: you can tell who I really am by how I spend.

Building on such insights, a school of “behavioral economics,” pioneered by researchers like Princeton’s Daniel Kahneman, Stanford’s Amos Tversky, and Harvard’s Andrei Shleifer, has emerged as a “robust, burgeoning sector” of mainstream economics, “opening the way for a richer and more realistic model of the human being in the marketplace.

So the orthodox economist’s premise that we can figure out what constitutes a good economy by summing the rational individual actions of consumers is suspect. “Rational” is a stretch; and, as we shall see, “individual” may cause even more trouble. But until fairly recently, that orthodox economist had a pretty good comeback to these kinds of objections, namely “Well, what other way is there?

prior to now ness

The misery of centrally planned economies testifies to that.

In 2002, Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in economics even though he was trained as a psychologist.

Our momentum is enormous. So enormous, in fact, that to most of us the health of the economy seems far more palpable, far more real, than the health of the planet.

why Husband ness – huge to make a mind shift.. but once it catches on – turns on a dime.. why getting (invisible) ducks in a row ness matters..

“community vitality”

The idea that there is a state called happiness, and that we can dependably figure out what it feels like and how to measure it, is extremely subversive. It would allow economists to start thinking about life in far richer terms, allow them to stop asking “What did you buy?” and to start asking “Is your life good?” It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen eventually. Because if you can ask someone “Is your life good?” and count on the answer to mean something, then you’ll be able to move to the real heart of the matter, the question haunting our moment on earth: Is more better?

eudaimonia ness. community vitality ness. ni ness. re wire ness

In one place after another, in fact, rates of alcoholism, suicide, and depression have gone up dramatically even as the amount of stuff also accumulated

suffocating from the day.. the death of us..

That’s not to say that getting richer caused these problems, only that it didn’t alleviate them. All in all, we have more stuff and less happiness. The experiment we’ve undertaken has yielded a significant, robust, and largely unexpected result

Most of all, perhaps the very act of acquiring so much stuff has turned us ever more into individuals and ever less into members of a community, isolating us in a way that runs contrary to our most basic instincts

the more we study the question, the less important affluence seems to be to human happiness. In one open-ended British questionnaire, people were asked about the factors that make up “quality of life.” They named everything from “family and home life” to “equality and justice,” and when the results were totted up, 71 percent of the answers were nonmaterialistic

In general, researchers report that money consistently buys happiness right up to about $10,000 per capita income, and that after that point the correlation disappears.66 That’s a useful number to keep in the back of your head—it’s like the freezing point of water, one of those random numbers that just happens to define a crucial phenomenon on our planet

ON THE LIST OF IMPORTANT MISTAKES WE’VE MADE AS A species, this one seems pretty high up. A single-minded focus on increasing wealth has driven the planet’s ecological systems to the brink of failure, without making us happier. How did we screw up? The answer’s pretty obvious: we kept doing something past the point where it worked.

food may be the place to begin. After all, for almost all people throughout history (and for most people still today), “the economy” is just a fancy way of saying “What’s for dinner?” and “Am I having any?

I’m able to taste a different future, but the weight of the present is strong indeed

Seventy-five percent of the apples for sale in New York City come from the West Coast or overseas, even though New York State produces ten times as many apples as the residents of the Big Apple consume

You get more food per acre with small farms; more food per dollar with big ones

small farm structure may become central to feeding the planet.”57

In 1973 the CEOs of large corporations earned thirty-five times as much as the average worker; now they earn two hundred times as much.17

Why do people so often look back on their college days as the best years of their lives? Usually, it’s not because their classes were so fascinating. More important is the fact that they lived more closely and intensely in a community than ever before or since (college is the four years in an American life when we live roughly as we’ve evolved to live)

Our choices have in some ways built our world. On the other hand, it’s hard to test whether these are the choices we really, or still, want to make. If most every radio station in your town is owned by some big broadcaster, you need many millions of dollars to buy a frequency, supposing one is available

more people can hear than can read. I think we ought to have a radio station, too.’”

WDEV offered full-service radio in part because doing so paid off nicely, and in part because Whitehill and Squier Senior saw it as their responsibility

In fact, the idea of businessmen owning radio stations was controversial. In the 1920s, as the medium got off the ground, licenses went mostly to colleges, to labor unions, and to civic-minded groups: these seemed the obvious rightful custodians of the public airwaves. But in the 1930s, as it became clear what a gold mine broadcasting could be, private owners managed to convince Congress that their “well-rounded” programming should get the edge over “narrow special interest.

Washington did demand, however, a modicum of accountability, in the form of the “community service” requirements I described above

coercing community service.. not enduring… hard to fall in love with it.. rather – another box to check..

“Right from the very beginning you were supposed to assess your community,” Squier says. “The government told you to assess the needs, and say how you were going to fulfill them, and if you didn’t they would take your license away from you.”

“public service,” which mostly involves running those free ads from the Ad Council. That’s different from the idea that the radio station is there to actually serve a community. “A few years ago a big flood hit Montpelier,” Squier says, “and after a couple of days they asked Governor Dean how he was keeping track of what was happening. And he said, ’Well, I’m listening to WDEV.’ We took all our sales staff and turned them into reporters for that period. We dropped all our commercials for three days. We had someone on the scene when the railroad bridge down here moved on its moorings. That’s what we’re supposed to do

reminds me of Jane Jacobs (and others) talk of the city.. and making use of everything 24/7 – which involves flexibility

“No Vermonter will ever hold a radio station license again,” he continues. “They’ll go to the big companies with the liquidity.” Which will pay the capital costs by not using the sales staff to cover the three-day Montpelier flood, and not broadcasting back-to-back high school girls’ basketball games, and not mounting a microphone on a bicycle to cover the local marathon, and not going live to the woods on the opening day of deer-hunting season

You hear things that other people are interested in. Which is pretty much the definition of community.

The program has worked so well that government subsidies are now being eliminated

nice sign of success… no longer needed

A car is the ultimate expression of individualism; a crosswalk is about community. And so, of course, is a bus.

We have a European standard of bus service,” says Gíslason, “but we have the American syndrome of the private

As interesting as new technologies like hydrogen may someday prove to be, far more important advances will involve what you might call the technologies of community

they had a new idea about their relationship with each other: “In this city, the public is more important than the private,” said Lerner. His constituents rejoiced in the pedestrian plazas that replaced many of the old car-filled streets

The result might contribute less to GNP growth, but it would surely cut some of the stress that comes with carrying endless debt

Cohousing communities aren’t communes. People have private dwellings, often attached condo style to a block of others. But the houses are small, because the community shares certain facilities: a kitchen and dining hall, playrooms for the kids, guest rooms for visitors, a laundry, tool sheds. Since the duties are shared—maybe you cook dinner once a week for the whole community—residents have more free time. And there’s always someone else nearby—which can take some getting used to, but which also offers real pleasures.

The knowledge that you matter to others is a kind of security that no money can purchase.

attachment ness

“extended families lived in densely clustered compounds

retirement ness

Once the note from the bank is hanging over your head, you have to increase your rate of production.

“It’s like ’Bring me the broomstick of the Witch of the West.’ Because otherwise it’s a little ’out there’ for the city to get involved.”

a people expeirment

But as more people come to fear the tower of debt atop which the U.S. dollar is precariously balanced, the attractiveness of a fallback plan grows. Perhaps it’s the current scheme, with its requirement of endless growth in a finite world, that seems utopian and far-fetched

this is ridiculous

Internet scale is neither big nor small; it’s distributed, as energy and food supplies may someday be. The small nodes hook together into something much larger, but not so monolithic it can’t easily hive off into new sites and communities and forums. Despite every effort to turn it into one more television set controlled by the largest info-conglomerates, the Internet continues to operate more like—to use my favorite metaphor—a farmers’ market, where a million people bring their produce to sell. Or, really, to give away

ni as means/placebo to get us to commons

In Iraq, one of the first laws adopted by the U.S.-led transition government in 2003 protected the patenting of plants and seeds, even though 97 percent of Iraqi farmers used seeds saved from their own crops or from local markets to grow their food.

ownership ness

By many estimates, seventy-five thousand or more riots and demonstrations take place every year against factories that seize peasant land or pollute common waters: a decade ago, there were about ten thousand such demonstrations a year.

mocking jay ness

growth is producing wild inequities around the developing world. Nations don’t get richer; people in them do, and often not very many of them

the Gini coefficient, a tool economists use to measure inequality. The American index has soared to .40 in recent decades, but the Chinese, for all their economic success, are doing even worse, at .45

worth remembering, though for now the matter is largely theoretical, that even should economic growth enrich many people, at a certain point that will turn into a mixed blessing for them. Most people in the developing world still have so little that more money means more satisfaction and the sacrifices of community for stuff are worth making. But those who have begun to “make it” have also begun to resemble Westerners in less-than-happy ways

schooling the world

“People say that it’s a miracle Bangladesh can survive its food and energy crises, that it somehow perseveres,” he added. “The real miracle, though, is that you could contrive a way to have a food crisis. If you stick something in the ground here, it grows.”

“Change doesn’t happen because of how we invest our money,” says Taylor. “Change happens because of how we invest our human energy

why grit ness – authentic energy

You’ve just got to keep reminding yourself that control is failure.  – Daniel Taylor  location 3313 69%

Daniel Taylor’s non-profit – west virginian, future generations

“Material well-being is only one component. That doesn’t ensure that you’re at peace with your environment and in harmony with one another

“Leaders in poor countries are impressed at hearing about all the bicycles in the Netherlands, a wealthy country where families can easily afford a car.” The manufacturer Trek is making a special $70 “California bike” for poor markets, its name and bright yellow frame chosen to add glamour. “In Africa, bike riding is stigmatized as a rural backward thing,” explains Aimee Gauthier of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. “If people start to associate bicycles with status, it will make a big difference.”44

this is a far more interesting intellectual adventure than merely trying to keep the present system accelerating a little longer

 good by cycle ness


2012 on colbert:

mckribben on colbert


setp 2014:

peoples climate march


dec 2014:

Acceptance Speech for 2014 Right Livelihood Award

gratitude to Snowden

we must build green cities

if you invest in fossil fuel companies you profit from the destruction of the earth. that’s the definition of dirty money.

we’re not drowning we’re fighting


find/follow Bill:

link twitter

wikipedia small

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his site:

bill mckibben site

from site:

Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist. His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages. He is founder of, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement. The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize, and holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities; Foreign Policy named him to their inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers, and theBoston Globe said he was “probably America’s most important environmentalist.” A former staff writer for the New Yorker, he writes frequently a wide variety of publications around the world, including the New York Review of Books, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone. He lives in the mountains above Lake Champlain with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern.


money ness


Xiuhtezcatl fb share

From our friend Bill McKibben: Winning Slowly Is the Same as Losing -The technology exists to combat climate change – what will it take to get our leaders to act? #actnow #climateaction #werise

Humans and their societies do work best with gradual transitions – it gives everyone some time to adapt. But climate change, sadly, isn’t a classic contest between two groups of people. It’s a negotiation between people on the one hand and physics on the other. And physics doesn’t do compromise. Precisely because we’ve waited so long to take any significant action, physics now demands we move much faster than we want to.

“There’s no way you can be in Houston or Flint or Puerto Rico right now and not feel the urgency,” says Elizabeth Yeampierre, one of America’s leading climate-justice advocates.

And so the only real question is, how do we suddenly make it happen fast?

begs a means for 7 bn to leap to a nother way

ie: hlb via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]..  a nother way


Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) tweeted at 1:22 PM – 27 Mar 2018 :

Good golly! A few minutes ago a Boston judge acquitted 13 pipeline protesters on the grounds that the climate crisis made it necessary for them to commit civil disobedience. This may be a first in America. Details to follow, and go to @ClimateDisobey for some live video (


Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) tweeted at 6:42 AM – 7 Jun 2018 :
Trump is costing us precious time–and we’ll never get it back (

begs we change our listening infra.. ie: 2 convos .. as infra..

as it could be..

ie: hlb via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]..  a nother way


Isaac Larkin (@Eyesgack) tweeted at 4:18 PM on Wed, Sep 18, 2019:
Yes, I hadn’t expected private equity to be one of the primary villains of the deforestation fights, but the book was a thorough indictment. Makes me think of Bill McKibben’s piece discussing PE’s role in funding fossil fuel extraction

These are all important efforts, but we need to do more, for the simple reason that they may not pay off fast enough… I suspect that the key to disrupting the flow of carbon into the atmosphere may lie in disrupting the flow of money to coal and oil and gas..t

rather.. disrupting flow of money period..

ie: money (any form of measuring/accounting) as our planned obsolescence

ie: ubi as temp placebo..

not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake..  a nother way

So a small group of activists has begun probing the financial industry, looking for chances to toss the kind of Hail Mary pass that could yet win this game.

can you hear me..? let’s start there.. ie: tech as it could be..


on michael moore‘s planet of humans by bill mckibben

“It turns out that pretty much everything…was wrong — there have been at least 24 debunkings, many of them painfully rigorous; as one scientist wrote in a particularly scathing takedown, “Planet of the Humans is deeply useless.”
Original Tweet:

‘A Bomb in the Center of the Climate Movement’: Michael Moore Damages Our Most Important Goal.. It hurts to be personally attacked in a movie. It hurts more to see a movement divided

even if it’s not working?.. not that it’s not important.. and that your heart isn’t in it.. just not deep enough to get to root man

but neither is democracy ness – which at end of interview michael suggests we spend our time with


bill mckibben on david sirota et al’s.. don’t look up

“The biggest news story of all time doesn’t quite fit our working definition of news, and hence is going remarkably undercovered. The comet, even now, is crashing into us, but we’re not quite able to see it.”
Original Tweet:

For my money, the single most spot-on character is played by Tyler Perry, as the co-host of a morning news show. Told that Leonardo DiCaprio is an astronomer, he quickly rummages through his mental file of tropes and genially demands, before we can get to the story of the comet, that his guest offer an opinion on the existence of aliens. “Can you tell us, yes or no, final answer.” (His perplexed guest, not yet adept at the media survival skill of turning inane questions into the answer you want to give, does indeed offer his view, spurring yet more tangents).

aka: distraction

The entire movie, of course, is an exposition of why we have not paid sustained attention to the climate crisis, the actual comet that bears down upon us in real time. (As someone who started using this metaphor in 2001 and 2003, I am very glad it’s finally reached a mass audience). One reason for that insufficient attention is clear: the fossil fuel industry ran an enormous disinformation campaign over decades, using its resources to muddy the waters and playing into journalism’s cult of objectivity to make it a he-said/she-said story for as long as possible. Also, Exxon buys a lot of ads.

aka: distraction

But there’s also something a little subtler. Journalism is constructed around finding something new. (I think that’s why they’re called newspapers). Which is a problem when it comes to the climate crisis.

aka: distractions

Journalism’s weakness on this score is one reason we need to keep building movements—they are able to interject drama and storylines into the mix, and hence give reporters another way to cover the ongoing drama.

but too.. are just distractions to our deeper problem

But we still need to come to grips with the *essential problem: the biggest news story of all time doesn’t quite fit our working definition of news, and hence is going remarkably undercovered. The comet, even now, is crashing into us, but we’re not quite able to see it.

*not the essential problem.. essential problem is that we keep distracting ourselves (even in seemingly good ways) rather than organizing around legit needs

if we don’t grok enough ness 1st.. we’re just as murray bookchin writes in ecology of freedom:


an environmentalistic technocracy is hierarchy draped in green garments.. hence it is all the more insidious because it is camouflaged in the color of ecology..