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How Shall I Live in Morning Star

howBy John Green
Morning Star
May 10, 2010

How can we be real citizens in a globalised world, this book argues, if the more "global" our world becomes, the more dysfunctional our societies?

To find an answer Jensen, dubbed the "philosopher poet of the ecological movement" in the US, interviews 10 leading thinkers on ecology and the dilemmas facing our world.

Only one is British. The others are from the US and range from a Catholic priest to a Buddhist, a shamanic magician to a reformed oil big-wig.

If that puts you off, don't let it. They all have thought-provoking things to say and force us to reassess and rethink our modes of living and what we take for granted.

They all ask us to reconsider our human-centred view of life on the planet and instead to see ourselves as part of an interactive relationship with our surroundings and co-inhabitants.

Some make seemingly outrageous statements, arguing an end to international trade or all road-building, but when they develop their arguments it becomes clear how such demands make sense.

They all contend that the only solution is in a more social, equitable and even socialistic or communistic society without once mentioning those dreaded words, understandable in a US context.

Carolyn Raffensperger explains vividly how capitalism increasingly externalises its true costs and leaves governments - the public - to pick up the tab. And she demonstrates that the lower costs of production only increase public cost in terms of ill-health and environmental degradation.

The present financial crisis and those to come are all based on capitalist greed. We have already overshot the world's carrying capacity in terms of long-term sustainability because of the way we have used cheap oil. Our world is slowly dying and is doomed unless we reverse this process quickly.

As the Indian philosopher Vine Deloria says, "If you see the world around you made up of objects for you to manipulate and exploit, it is inevitable that you destroy the world by attempting to control it."

Sometimes the interviewees are a little precious and all, I imagine, live quite privileged lives. But this shouldn't be allowed to invalidate their basic arguments.

A book well-worth reading.

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