I, like you, drive too much. I buy too much—of which I keep too much and also throw too much away. I overindulge my children, and myself. Directly as well as indirectly I use too much water, energy, air and space. My existence, in short, costs the planet more than it can afford. This is not some handed-down moral stricture, nor any sort of guilty self-flagellation, but a simple recognition of fact. The consequences are obvious, and near enough now to see the warts on their noses. For my own future, as well as my children's, I must change. And yet—this is what's weird—I, like you, can't. Cannot abandon comfort, convenience and pleasure for the sake of abstract knowledge. Can't stop doing it. This is interesting.
It's interesting because we think we are so rational, so intelligent, and yet we behave, both individually and as a herd, in such unintelligent ways. That's what drove this book into being.
Welcome to Blubberland—a world of quadruple-garaged mansions, vast malls, gated communities, stretch limos, and posh resorts. Blubberland is a place, but it is also a state of mind: we expect to be happy (trophy house, SUV in the driveway, home entertainment system, pension fund, cosmetic surgery), but in fact we've grown increasingly bloated, bored, and miserable. In Blubberland, award-winning critic Elizabeth Farrelly looks at our "superfluous superfluity," our huge eco-footprint, and asks why we find it so hard to abandon habits we know to be destructive. Why can't we build human-scale cities, design meaningful public spaces, eat reasonable meals, and stop assaulting nature?
Farrelly, trained as an architect, begins this story with architecture, urban sprawl, and housing, but she does not end there. She also looks at "affluenza," childhood asthma, diabetes, addiction, beauty, ugliness, narcissism, climate change, mega-churches, big box retailers, sustainability, depression, anorexia, and the links that collect all of these issues under the same roof—the roof, as it were, of the McMansion. As "big" becomes more and more pervasive, and success is seen in increasingly measurable and material terms, the goal of happiness jeopardizes our survival. Blubberland is a smart, thoughtful, and stylish argument for turning things around.
About the Author
Elizabeth Farrelly is one of Australia's liveliest and most provocative writers on architecture and the environment. The winner of the CICA International Critics' Award, the Pascall Prize for Critical Writing, and the Marion Mahony Griffin Award, she is a columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald, a commentator on Australian television and radio, and Adjunct Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Sydney.
"This is essential reading for anyone interested in sustainability—reading that goes beyond how to set up a composter or how to calculate one's carbon footprint, and gets tothe essence of what is wrong with modern living."—The Chronicle of Higher Education