ISBN 978-0-230-34218-7. “The Big Flatline – Oil and the No-Growth Economy” by Jeff Rubin was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012. You remember Jeff don’t you? He wrote the outstanding “How Your World is About to get a Whole Lot Smaller” in 2009. It is a work that we recommend everyone reads. Not only was it a good read but it had a certain gravitas being from a man who had spent his career as the chief economist at CIBC Markets in Canada. Sadly no more. Now he is just an author who “blogs for the Huffington Post”. Nowadays he earns his money by writing about energy economics. And if there is one thing he knows it is the energy markets. So how do you follow up a classic?
ISBN 978-1-846-14448-6. “How Much is Enough? The Love of Money, and the Case for the Good Life” by Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky was published by Allen Lane (Penguin Group) in 2012. Robert and Edward are a father & son team; Robert is Professor of Political Economy whilst Edward is a lecturer in Philosophy. This work combines their interests and starts with Robert’s three volume biography of John Maynard Keynes. Their argument follows a torturous alternative path to a conclusion that we can all agree with: the pursuit of money, as an end in itself, is destructive. The Skidelskys propose a more paternalistic (less utilitarian) approach to economic management that helps us all focus on our quality of living. In their words “the good life”.
ISBN 978 1 84694 671 4. “No Local – Why Small-Scale Alternatives Won’t Change the World” by Greg Sharzer as published by Zero Books in 2012. This is a small book by a relatively unknown author. Its cover and title attempts to ape Naomi Klein’s “No Logo” but there is no comparison. At first glance the concept was very attractive to us: a critique of re-localisation. Yes, it is a critique but one by a devout Marxist. As such it is tortuous reading. It is like studying the work of an 18th Century Catholic theologian who argued that Buddhism was the work of the devil because Buddhists didn’t care how many angels could be stood on the head of a pin. The critique only makes sense if you are a Marxist.
Nothing more clearly illustrates the division between old fashioned green thinking & the modern sustainability movement than Genetically Modified food. A recent clash of Tweets between author Mark Lynas (“The God Species“) and Dr Vandana Shiva (author “Soil Not Oil“) exposes just how deep the battle wounds have become. The gloves are off but maybe both are missing the point.