Life, Money & Illusion
Living on Earth as if We Want to Stay

Nickerson, Michael
Publisher:  Seven Generations Publishing, Canada
Year Published:  2006
Pages:  447pp   Price:  $19.95   ISBN:  0-9780973-0-0
Library of Congress Number:  HD75.N53 2006   Dewey:  338.9
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX8174

The failure to reduce green house gas emissions, the success of efforts to curb ozone depletion, causes related to prosperity and social justice are just some the topics covered. By using the example of Kerela, India, Nickerson shows how a society by working together can become car-free, religious and bigotry free, have a high level of health care and literacy and be able to sustain itself on a fraction of the money on which we depend.

Mike Nickerson discusses the effects that a capitalist growth-oriented mindset has had on society and the environment. Nickerson believes that humanity has become a "dominating influence" on the planet, and that human practices might soon require the consumption of more resources than the Earth can provide.

The first section of Nickerson's work details the scope of the problems that the environment is facing due to human activities. The law of minimum and the law of tolerance state that in order for organisms to thrive, certain minimum resource requirements must be met and all other conditions such as toxin levels must be kept within tolerable levels. Nickerson argues that consequences of human activities, including climate change and the depletion of fresh water, have already made the Earth in inhabitable for many organisms. Humans could soon be one of them.

Table of Contents

1 Without Vision, the People Perish
2 Vision for the 21st Century
3 Life: How it Thrives
4 Problems with Life: Human Impacts on a Full Planet
5 Mutual Provision: Money, Markets and an Orderly Words
6 Magnitude and Abstraction: When We Grow Very Large

Problems with Our Market Economy
7 Where Value is Neglected
8 Where Value is Overstated
9 Money: Its Creation, Management and Growth
10 The Monopoly End Game

Economic Solutions
11 First Steps
12 Practical Changes
13 Monetary reform

14 Cultural foundations: working together as Societies
15 How to Get There from Here: A Question of Direction
16 A Crack in the Road: Motor Culture
17 What Will Become of Us?

Appendix: Tapping Our Collective Potential
Recommended reading
About the Author
Looking Back to the Present

Nickerson then outlines several problems with market capitalism with respect to sustainability and proposes possible solutions to them. According to him, the concepts of self-interest and competition do not take into account how one's actions could affect future generations or other species. Additionally, officials now believe that "whatever the problem, growth is the solution," leading society to continually pursue growth despite dwindling resources. Nickerson's solution to these issues would be to force markets to take into account social and ecological factors. This could involve policies such as "full-cost pricing," in which products would be priced based on their effects on the environment as well as their production and distribution costs. Thus, self-interest would be shifted so that everyone acted with the planet's long-term well-being in mind.

The social changes that Nickerson proposes also require a shift in focus. Instead of attempting to accumulate wealth, one should concentrate on "life-based activities" such as maintaining relationships and enjoying recreational activities. After a period of growth, human beings must be able to mature to be able to support their children. Similarly, society has had its period of growth and now we must act maturely, or the Earth may not be able to support our children.

[Abstract by Oliver Mao]

Subject Headings

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