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Good afternoon and welcome. I am Bill Petrocelli, one of the owners of Book Passage and as I am delighted today to welcome you here. Once in a while a book comes along and then you feel like it changes your whole way of thinking and I am pleased to say that the book I am going to be hearing about today is one of those kinds of books. You read it and you sit back and think okay, its - maybe you have to change all my assumptions about how the economy works and all that. I am sorry what? Louder? Nobody has ever accused me of being too soft before, particularly my daughter. About a year ago, you know, on a newsletter you probably, some of you may remember we did a long article about trying to analyze the impact of a local business on a local economy. And we talked about the fact that local businesses re-circulate more money back into the local economy, that's true and how they nurture local producers of products in the case of a book store how we nurture local authors. How local businesses sometimes become centers for community activity. And I think that's particularly true, that's the way we have kind of evolved our store. But what a joy it was to pick up a book which not only talks about this sort of thing but expands it in terms of the whole idea into a really systematic approach about importance of local economy. I am delighted that you are all here today. I, of course, you are going to support your local economy by buying lots of lots of copies of this books and you'll want to do so to give it to your friends and if they don't if they are not here and they are want to see the event they can also they can watch our website and we will be clicking to FORA.tv which is here recording the event. I don't know if some of you noticed a couple of months ago in our newsletter we listed all of the Book Passage events that are now available to be seen at FORA.tv and if you haven't seen a lot of them go back and look at them. And this event will soon be added to the added to the mix that we are delighted that they are here. Bill McKibben has written the "End of Nature" "The Age of Missing Information", "Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age". He is a former staff writer for the New Yorker. Writes regularly for several magazines and is a scholar in resident at Middlebury College in Vermont and with a great deal of pleasure I introduce to you Bill McKibben. Well thank you all so much. Its one of the real pleasures about writing this book and talking about it is the opportunity to do it in just this sort of place. It's just possible that because you live here and this book store has been here for a long time you might take it for granted. And if you do you make a horrible mistake because an awful lot of book stores in an awful lot of places, there are awful lot of places that don't have one of these any more. Local book store is one of the central parts of any local culture and to be able to be here and be working with them is great pleasure and a great honor. I am going to talk about the book in a minute. First I am going to talk about something else because it's what I am spending, at least as much, actually far more time and energy on at the moment and it's something that I wandered into sort of haphazardly. You know, I have been working on this global warming stuff for a very long time, "The End of Nature" was the first book in that climate change way back in 1989 which seems like a very long time ago. And for most of that time I have been writing and speaking. Beginning last summer started becoming more of in I would say becoming more of an organizer except I am really not very good at it. I am more kind of dis-organizer in many ways but last summer a few of us organized a march across the State of Vermont where I live for action on climate change and it was quite successful. By the time we marched 50 miles and got into Burlington we had a 1000 people which in Vermont is a lot of people. But, you know, the next day when I read the stories about it in the newspaper they all said that this was the largest demonstration there had ever been on global warming in this country and we just thought that's so crazy. And so January of this year working with six students at Middlebury, six brand new graduates of Middlebury who had raised enough money to pay a $100 a week we launched a website called stepitup07.org and asked people to organize rallies and demonstrations in their communities on April the 14th of this year to demand real and dramatic action from Congress on climate change and end to the 20-year bipartisan effort to accomplish nothing. And we thought, when we started this, because we had no money and we still have no money and we have no organization and we still really have no we thought maybe we could organize a 100 or a 150 of these around the country, if we were lucky. I checked the website as I was leaving the hotel this morning and we are at 964 of these rallies and in every state in the union and pretty much in every Congressional district in the country. It's going to be by far the largest grassroots environment protests since Earth day in 1970 and I think it stands a real chance of helping spur us along on the change that needs to be made. When we said 10 weeks ago, 80 percent by 2050 was our cuts in carbon emissions was our goal, people thought that was, you know, many people said that's far too radical and you are asking for far too much. We knew it was on the outer edge of the politically possible. 10 weeks later on Friday John Edwards endorsed publicly the idea of an 80 percent by 2050 cut and I think he won't be the last of the presidential candidates to do so. The landscape is shifting fast and you all can help the landscape shift even faster. On April 14th there is going to be a dozen events in this general neck of the woods culminating in an afternoon event in San (Anselmo) yes and go to stepitup07.org for details and show up and bring people with you. It's, I think, worth taking one spring day to help try to reshape the future in that way. All right, that's as good as I can do as an organizer. If that's the kind of short term solution to the fix that we are in, this book represents my attempt at what maybe the longer term answer to the predicament that we find ourselves in. If there was one basic idea that explains that lies behind American policy and the really policy of most places around the world in the last 50 or 60 years, it would be the economic idea that "more is better." That's been the sort of driving force and we can tell it's the driving force because, you know, every President no matter of what party in every legislature economic growth as the single most important thing that they can be talking about it. Every policy that we pass is justified on the grounds that it will in some way aid the increase in the size of our economies and things. It's a very powerful idea. And the only problem with is that it no longer works very well and that's the kind of insight from which this book begins. No longer works very well in two ways. One is that its helping us drive off an ecological cliff and to drive off it pretty quickly. Climate change is the best example of that but it's not the only one. I have spent a lot of time in the last couple of years in Asia reporting for National Geographic and Harpers and others and getting to see the, say the, Chinese economy close at hand, extremely vibrant and dynamic and fascinating to watch an economy that's growing at 10 percent a year. If it keeps growing like that, by the middle of the century the Chinese will be as rich as we are on average. If they consume in the ways that we do well, you know, there is 800 million automobiles on earth right now, the Chinese alone would have 1.1 billion automobiles. If they ate our diet, the Chinese alone would consume two-thirds of world's grain harvest. And that's before you get to the Indians and everybody else sort of right behind them. It's not physically possible for this endless expansion to continue, that's one problem. The other problem and in a sense it's also a great opportunity is and for me it was in many ways the most interesting part of this book was to really dig into a lot of research that economists have begun to do in the last, say, 10 years around a very interesting and subversive question which is whether not the growth that we have been experiencing in our prosperity has actually made us happier or not, increased levels of satisfaction. It's a very important question, one that we hadn't tried to answer for a very longtime, because it seemed soft and ephemeral. How could you really reliably measure anything like satisfaction or happiness, and that's where some of the economists including a very interesting guy name Daniel Kahneman of Princeton who won the Nobel three or four years ago began. They began by trying to establish whether or not people were good, whether people were reliable source of information about their own happiness or not you know. And since they were economists the very earliest, sort of, attempts to do this were quite dismal. You know, one of the early studies that they say was the one where they were taking people who are undergoing colonoscopies and every 10 seconds asking them to rate the level of discomfort that they were experiencing, trying to figure out if they were good at reporting that and you know this sort of data expanded and expanded to the point where finally the real consensus emerged that, yes, actually you could take people quite at face value when you ask them questions like this and with that in mind people were able to go and look at the research to what data there was and began to discover some very odd things. I mean one national polling group, every year since the end of World War II, has asked the Americans are you happy? And you can answer "very happy", "happy" and "not happy." The number of Americans who say that they are very happy peaks in 1956 and goes slowly but steadily downhill since. About a quarter of Americans will now say that they are very happy. That's very odd, because in that same 50 year period the material prosperity of Americans has about tripled okay. If things that we think we know about economic life were true, then those two curves should more or less move, you know, in something like the same direction. That they move in different directions is sort of alarming to our sense of the world. Not to mentioned that it sort of makes us wonder whether or not its been an awful lot of wasted effort and wasted environmental destruction in that 50 year period to achieve very little. The interesting question is why this is happening? And the answer seems to be again the research is still fairly new, but it's pretty compelling. The answer seems to be that what we are missing, what we are feeling a profound lack of is social connection and community. And if you think about it, I mean, that fits the timeframe well. What had we do in the 1950s, we started building suburbs and building ever bigger houses and you know reducing the chances that we would run into each other in the course of a day which is precisely what's happened. Americans have about half as many close friends as they did 50 years ago. We are much less likely that we eat meals with family, with neighbors, with relatives. And its almost there is almost a direct correlation between our increased prosperity and that decreased connection between people. We spend immense amounts of time working to afford the things that we have and the things that we have tend to put us further and further apart from other people. Some of you may have seen the story in the New York Times last week about the way that in the enormous houses that we've built and the average American house is just twice as big as it was the new ones as they were just 25 years ago that in these sort of new houses that people were building the great new design feature is dual master bedrooms for husbands and wives who don't really want to even share the same bedroom because one snores or you know he pulls the covers too hard, you know, something like that. I mean, there is a sense, almost in which are economists turning into a kind of farce at some level, you know, like that. And that's, you know, that's a very powerful set of truths that we're just beginning to relearn. You can measure them in almost clinical ways. If you find an American who doesn't belong to anything, doesn't belong to a club or something and there were tens of millions of people like this and convince them to join anything. Church choir, softball league doesn't make any difference. In the next year their mortality drops by half, the chance that they will die drops by half. Its not - we are not sort of teasing out several effects here that are hard to find, it's pretty powerful. The good news as a result of all this I think and the sort of one of the thesis of this book is that the solution to these two sets of problems or a solution to them lies in much the same direction. And that is beginning the process of rebuilding the kind of local economies that: a) Use way less in the way of energy to do what needs to be done and b) By their nature bring people back into closer connection with each other. The sort of obvious and easy first example on one that I write about some and one that we had I did a program last night in Berkeley with my old friend Michael Pollan and when we talked about a lot there was about food. It's very good news that the fastest growing part of our food economy right now in this country is local farmers markets. And they are growing about 10 percent a year. And its good news for environmental reasons, you know, if you eat locally you use between about five and 15 times less energy then you do if you eat the way that most of us do which is the kind of order take out from thousands of miles away every night of the year, you know. The average bite of food we eat traveled about 2000 miles to get to us. So you save a lot of energy maybe in order of magnitude, when you say 10 times less energy to eat that way. But you also do something else. You create well you create a lot of community. A pair of sociologists followed shoppers couple of years ago. First they followed shoppers in the supermarket and then in the farmers market. Everybody has been to the supermarket. You walk in, you shut off your mind, you visit the same, you know, little islands that you visited the week before. Somehow you emerged with almost exactly the same set of things that you had the week before. Maybe you have this stimulating paper or plastic conversation at the checker and that's it. When people went to farmers markets they had 10 times more conversations than they did that's at 10 times. In order of magnitude less energy and in order of magnitude more community. You begin to see enough leverage to begin to sort of move some of these huge systems that need moving. And we can sense it in many, many other areas and then we can obviously sense it in a room like this one where local businesses like this serve as kind of gathering and organizing places for people to come in contact with each other and I am sure that over the years more than one great scheme for this part of the world has been hatched here and, you know, in a restaurant over there and things, I mean those are important. We can do the same kind of analysis on all kinds of other commodities. One of the most important probably is energy itself. Just as with food which, you know, we sort of contend to turnover to a few huge corporations Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, few huge growers in the central valley. The same with energy, you know, a few big huge centralized places or where it mostly comes from and we consume it. It doesn't need to work that way. We can have the energy equivalent of a farmer's market with many people feeding in and taking out. If you have as I am sure some of you do, solar panels on your roof and you are tied into the grid and then you are sort of using energy the way that you use the Internet, you know. You contribute in, you contribute in and you take out and it's a much more benign and interesting model in the long run than relying on a few huge centralized power stations. It may require a slightly different relationship in the long run to energy to not taking it completely for granted, not wasting it in the quantities that we do and not assuming that every second of every day it's always going to be there in exactly the quantities we want. But in the end it's a much more durable system than the very vulnerable and gradual one that we've built now. I mean, a system that depends for us to power our lives on the uninterrupted supply of oil from the Middle East, on the willingness of people in Southern Appalachia to see every mountain top in that part of the world cut off and destroyed. You know, on and on down the list. And not to mention that depends on us not taking seriously climate change, the greatest problem we have ever faced. So food, energy, but even much more ephemeral familiar commodities like culture, like art. I was with Michael Krasny this morning on KQED. And pointing out that you know, if someone submitted the KQED business plan to business school, they would say this is ridiculous. You know, what's their business plan? We give away the product, you know we put this thing on the air for free; anybody can have it. In a couple of times the year, we come on the radio and you know beg you to send us a check which you don't have to send us. How could that work? But it does work. And in fact, those radio stations and ones like them around the country are flourishing and doing their best to fight off - you know, the sort of sonic equivalent of Exxon Mobil or Archer Daniels Midland which are things like clear channel and infinity, the sort of rapacious, centralized radio stations that have taken up because of deregulation, much of the dial and ended that tradition of local and community broadcasting. Even art or even sort of the arts. Here is an interesting statistic I came across in the course of this thing. The 20th century in 1900, in the State of Iowa alone there were 1300 Opera houses, okay. 1300 live performance and venues. Now, no body in them was getting you know Whitney Houston rich you know. But there were clearly a lot of the sort of tenors making part of their living, doing this. And there were a lot of people gathering together to hear if not the greatest singer on earth, then a good singer in a context where they were together as a community. One way to think about this sort of alternatives and to kind of begin to try to imagine at least a little of the way down the road where we might need to go is to think about places that probably most people in this world have been. In this room have been, which is Western Europe, France, Italy, Germany and Scandinavia. There is a lot of interesting things that they've chosen I think in those countries to do over a long period of time. The most important of which is to think a little more about community and a little less about the kind of hyper-individualist model that we've adopted. Hence they've been willing to pay more in the way of taxes and they have as a result, you know, guaranteed healthcare and education and retirement. They have good public transit and those sort of things. That brings with it all kinds of other outcomes. People have less money to spend. They have less stuff there, okay. Disposable income is between one half and two-thirds of what it is in this country. On the other hand, people have a lot more time, they've taken some of their productivity and you've spent it in taxes, and they've taken some of their productivity in the form of much more leisure. You know, eight or nine weeks of vacation on average and many fewer hours a week are less work. As a result, they tend to have much stronger families. The divorce rate is considerably lower across Europe than it is here because people have time to eat meals with each other, or whatever. As a result, those levels of satisfaction with life that have plummeted in this county have stayed even or risen across most of Western Europe. As a very strong physical result of all of this, Western Europeans use half as much energy per-capita as Americans. Half is a big number. Half begins to get us some place when we are talking about global warming. It's way more important than any of the, you know, as a number than, any of the contributions we are going to get from, you know, hydrogen or ethanol or whatever other magic fix techno fix people have in mind at any given moment, it's a real start down that, down that path. And one of the most important questions in the room right now is whether the China and India will evolve more in a kind of European or more in an American direction. And if it's the latter then you know, god save us all. Because it just is, you know, mathematically, it's I mean, it even to evolve in a European direction is mathematically difficult in large ways but not in with the same degree of impossibility that our model at the moment presents. So it's those incredibly, for me, incredibly interesting set of understandings or sort of that the data now presents that kind of drive this book. And with it, allow what I think is a fairly hopeful version - vision. And I am not, you know by nature an unbelievably hopeful guy. I wrote a book called the "The End of Nature" you know. But I am willing to be hopeful in this respect, partly because, I think, those kind of communities that we need to build would do a lot towards heading a lot of the global whelming and other crisis that we produce partly because I think that given that we're not going to head off all those problems, given that there is no turning back the clock and a certain amount of chaos, I think, these are also the kind of communities that we need to build in order to ride out what's coming. The kind of durable and resilient and connected communities that offer some real hope for people flourishing in a world that will not be as easy or sweet or as stable as the world that we've had the good fortune to inhabit. And I really do think that the task for us now in the next little while is to figure out how to move as quickly as we can in some of these directions and offer some different visions for the world around us; which is why its great, good fun to be in a community like this one, that's obviously tight and trying to do really interesting things and has the resources and the margin to do some interesting things for the moment and I wish you all kinds of good luck, you should do them. And I really hope that your will check out to this stepitup07.org thing, because that's the short term fix with out which really any of these longer term solutions are almost quixotic to discuss. So there I end. Thank you very much.