Rubin, Jeff. WHY YOUR WORLD IS ABOUT TO GET A WHOLE LOT SMALLER: Oil and the end of globalization. Random House Canada. 2009.

“There is little we can do to prevent oil prices from recovering to ever new highs in the future…We have to change the basic equation that ties our oil consumption to our economy.”

A Toronto economist for CIBC, Rubin is hardly a flaming radical but he has a clear understanding and an original and optimistic view on how we, the greedy energy consumers of the world, will survive the shortage and rising inevitable price of petroleum. Never mind that we have enormous reserves of oil and natural gas in Canada – we blithely signed away control of them to our neighbours, USA, and big corporations when we endorsed NAFTA. Unlike the Mayan peasants of Chiapas we did not have enough sense or courage to stand up to our sell–out governments.

Rubin devotes the first part of the book explaining why oil – a diminishing resource whose reserves are becoming more difficult and more expensive to extract – is linked to economic recessions and how economic recovery is always reflected in prices. He also writes about agriculture, transportation of food and goods and many services that are linked to the availability and price of oil. We rely on imported food that uses oil from the fertilizers, the tractors, the transport and refrigeration. Our homes are full of goods from China, cheap because oil is still cheap. Rubin faces us with the prospect of rethinking our consumption and our lifestyle. Global warming and climate changing are ´cooking the planet´. Our industrial economy is spewing out carbon emissions. Much of which we already know – even if we don´t act on this knowledge. It is time to end our love affair with plastic and pineapples.

Rubin goes on to tell us of the advantages of a smaller world. ´Going local´ is in our future and it has many benefits. We can exchange the impersonality of global availability and sameness for community. Community rooted in local resources, local talent and community based on sustainability and social justice.

He writes, “One day soon, you won´t be wearing the same thing as your doppelganger in Tokyo. And eventually your house won´t look the same as every other house on the continent. The things that made your local environment distinctive will come back to the fore.”

Imagine that if travel abroad becomes rare, we will be living more closer to home, we will want and work for clear air and water, better public services – including transportation and a community where everyone has a decent life – social security at its best. We will learn new skills, and save our workforce – at the same time allowing exploited workers elsewhere to have the right to create their own communities.

“We will soon become far more attentive custodians of our own little worlds.”

If we do that will be disempowering the forces of globalization from corporations to corporate controlled governments to militarization to the sex trade; we will be taking on the control of our lives through participatory democracy and an understanding of our inter–dependence. Indeed, a smaller world may be better for us and the world. The alternative is still ´cooking the planet´ and it is getting hotter all the time.

Filed under Book Reviews, Jeff Rubin