How to order Life, Money & Illusion.

Consider the Earth when buying stuff, author says

Halifax Chronical-Herald
Sun. Feb 22 - 2009

As a person who has spent all of her adult life involved in writing, music and media, you would think avoiding the harsh realities of the world would be second nature. You would guess wrong, gentle reader - I just can't get enough of information about self-reliance, whether it's about maintaining stockpiles or how to build a survival shelter out of soup cans. Yes, I watch Survivorman regularly. Thanks to years of working freelance, I can live on next to nothing for a surprisingly long time. I own books on such esoteric delights as how to build a root cellar and how to make my own laundry soap.

If worst came to worst, I'd get along.

Do I plan to use that knowledge for my everyday life? Uh, no. My soup-can house will remain an odd fantasy.

Life, Money & Illusion: Living on earth as if we want stay by Mike Nickerson takes an in-depth look at how taxed the world and its resources are and how we should sustain our future. It's not a book about hard-core survival but rather, a look at how we must use our present resources more gently.

In a recent interview by email, Nickerson explains his reasons for writing the book and he poses a question that may alarm some.

"I had already written two books on sustainability so it was already clear that we cannot continue to expand our impacts on the Earth; that we have to stabilize and probably reduce those impacts in order to avoid catastrophe. Learning that we have hard times just because we were not expanding impressed me as a big problem. That is when I began studying economics and ecological economics. I wanted an answer to the question: Why do we have to grow?"

Nickerson's question on growth is shocking - after all, every business, everything in the economic world in general, is based on growth. Companies are expected to make more money each year and workers are expected to be more productive. Goods are made to become obsolete so you'll buy more in the future. After all, who buys a computer these days and expects to be still using it in 10 years? It's a continuing cycle that Nickerson believes to be hopelessly out of date. He also believes growth is no longer an option.

"The primary point is that a fundamental change has taken place in the relationship between people and the Earth. Throughout the human experience, there were always new frontiers to expand into if we spoiled some area, or if we needed more resources. Increasingly this is no longer true. This change in circumstances requires an equally fundamental change in how we manage ourselves."

Nickerson goes into considerable detail on every subject imaginable, supplying the reader with plenty to ponder.

"There are many steps people can take to reduce personal material impacts," Nickerson says. "While individual actions may seem small, each one is a testimony that change is in order. When enough people demonstrate their concern through their wilful actions, the leaders will have to follow with structural changes."

I may need that can opener yet.

Elizabeth Patterson is a musician, writer and broadcaster based in Sydney.

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Last Update: February 25, 2009