What An Inconvenient Truth did for understanding climate change, a new film, The Economics of Happiness, is sure to do for understanding localization versus globalization. Even for those who are well versed in the negative effects of globalization, this film will further expose the systemic structures that drive the machine. But the film also offers hope in examples of the ways that localization could save us. I know of no other film that so clearly explains both of these divergent paths into the future.
Interspersed with interviews with some of the leading ecologists and thinkers of our time (Bill McKibben, David Korten, Vandana Shiva, Richard Heinberg, U.K. member of parliament Zac Goldsmith, and many others), the film chronicles a worldwide movement for localization that is underway.
But the first part of the film looks at what economic globalization has wrought. In sometimes heart-breaking imagery, the film exposes many of the effects of globalization; the ways that it destroys livelihoods and foments conflicts; the ways that people are forced off their lands, in many cases having those lands appropriated by governments doing the bidding of corporations. As Vandana Shiva, the renowned ecologist and physicist, says in the film, this process has driven 100,000 Indian farmers to suicide — and this is just one tragic example of many.
One of the thorniest issues to understand is that of global trade, which is widely assumed to be beneficial, even in the most progressive circles. However, we see in the film the ways in which global trade is destroying the environment as countries routinely import and export massive quantities of identical products. For instance, the U.K. exports as much butter and milk as it imports.
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