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Free Essay Sample «Ecotopia»



This paper is meant to provide the book review of Ernest Callenbach's “Ecotopia.” Ernest Callenbach issued his novel “Ecotopia – The Notebooks and Reports of William Weston” in 1975. This 12 edition was issued by Banyan Tree Books publisher. It is the influential utopian novel and one of the initial utopias to have a severe ecological point of view. In the 70’s, there was a huge discontent of how the market and the administration were serving the populace that resulted in lots of novel counter-cultures and left-thinkers becoming more powerful. Ecotopia targets this fact, and the novel came to influence the counterculture and the Green Movement. Ernest Callenbach's 1977 novel reminds people how the medium of print formed the publications and culture of the era.

Book Review

The book includes the each day reports of the reporter William Weston. Weston is sent by the Times-Post to spend six weeks in Ecotopia where he will report back to the USA. The reporter is the first US journalist ever to investigate Ecotopia. Before his visit, most US citizens have not even been permitted to attend Ecotopia. In the novel, Winston’s reports are followed by his individual diary notes that provide the booklover with his experience from the tour on far more individual level.

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Though this work is not a romance or thriller, I felt an affinity for the details of the globe Callenbach forecasted. Moreover, I was impressed by how many of his notions came to pass. For instance, the book precisely predicted West Coast scientific institutes would be studying biofuel, solar, algae, and sea-generated power, and video conferencing being utilized to reduce travel. Solar power dedications are demonstrated on the news, and composting and recycling are usual. Sexual equality is the norm. Waterfronts are re-established as the urban amenities.

However, some things are depicted extremely optimistically. But these dreams are just over the horizon. Bike sharing is on the edge of coming to San Francisco. Many parking lots are substituted by restaurants, public space, and shops. Marijuana is practically legal. Some other moments are unlikely anytime soon. Whilst Ecotopia bans usage of the private vehicle for travel, people are still extremely car-dependent. Composting toilets are considered fringe notions. Urban lands have not mainly returned to “grassland, orchards, forests, or gardens” (Callenbach, 25-67). Nor do people have green power generated by the sea.

If Ernest Callenbach, who demonstrated the real concern over the worsening environment, had treated this crucial trouble on the continental scale, he would understand you cannot separate three states from the total land of the country – or even the continent – and expect to stop the environmental deprivation. The scale is extremely small. Pollution spreads across the entire continent and, finally, the globe, with no respect for limits; its contagion touches all living systems. Moreover, though wildlife should be hunted with arrows or bows, humans are permitted to have guns. Aggressive war games occur where Ecotopian people are occasionally murdered and wounded by spears, the single arms permitted in this cozy activity. War games substitute competitive sports, tempering all that violence inner in human personality, even replacing the necessity of war. Probably, the author should have utilized some additional sources of information to provide more thorough scientific foundation to the book to make it sound even more convincing and realistic.

As it is always the case with many writers who try to solve the crucial social troubles with either nonfiction or fiction, Callenbach cannot get rid of cash, politics, and voting from the mind, so the fabulous social scheme would be destined for collapse if accepted too seriously. But it is not in the fictional Ecotopia. I have to admit that I am not really a true-believing vegetarian myself, but I admit that much of the story has great power and it is convincing. Ecotopians enjoy twenty-hour work weeks, have the stake in the product of own labor and exist in the society, which got rid of patriarchy.

The philosophy of Ecotopia is established on the strong belief in existing of the balance with the nature. Each action taken has to be in accordance to the notion of the “stable state” – this is the primary aim of Ecotopia. The notion of stable state is created on the thought that nothing manufactured in Ecotopia should have an influence on the well-being of the nature; everything should be reused and recycled. This concept has insinuation for each aspect of living, from the personal to the general. On far less practical level, the belief in nature becomes more like the religion and is highly present in the “spirit” of the local citizens. At the very same time, the aim of Ecotopia is not to go back to the Stone Age. On the contrary, Ecotopia utilizes the most advanced technology and science to develop an environment as “green” as possible (Callenbach, 25-67).

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In the mid seventies, the ecological issues began to come into people’s views. The book depicts the North America, about 20 years further from the time the author developed the work, divided into two parts. The parts evolved entirely isolated from one another, and after some decades, the journalist was sent to see what is up with the people after all the period of the separation. The reports to a newspaper and private notebooks make up Callenbach's novel. They provide the booklover with an image of what is and how it actually came to the situation.

“Ecotopia” is less a novel than it is the long essay on how people could exist if they would merely all become environmentalists. The fundamental premise is merely an environmentalist variation of Sir Thomas More’s classic “Utopia.” But “Ecotopia” is not exactly the current retelling of More’s book. Contrasting to his utopia, Ecotopia is earnest in a way just a genuine environmentalist may be. The story is enjoyable, and I liked many ideas in it. But the account is a daydream in many ways, with practically no opportunity of it ever taking place.

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In the work, lots of issues, subjects, and topics cover personal and social living, politics, economy, and environmental situation. It is extremely detailed and, therefore, may be called the valuable resource for discussions. It asserts, how humans could feel in a globe, where lots of things are altered (and by contrasting to the eastern part: how humans usually feel when nothing alters). So, the book is focused on people, their relations, and all the technical stuff creates the scenery.


Ernest Callenbach’s book “Ecotopia” is amazingly thorough utopian novel, full of fantasy and interesting technological resolutions, which, in fact, have the root in reality. Throughout the entire work, the author lets the ecotopian humans argue for the belief in the extremely persuasive manner, and at the finale of the novel, a booklover is in no doubt this extremist green society is achievable. Actually, people may easily notice lots of benefits with it, and not merely the most apparent ones. In Ecotopia, all individuals appear to be happier and more in contact with the internal nature, and at the finale, Weston ends up leaving the amazing living of mass-consumption behind and staying in Ecotopia. Thus, it is simple to realize why the novel was so attractive to all hippies of the 70’s and why it was the huge kick-off for the green movement.

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The matter with the local citizens in Ecotopia, however attractive, is that people end up with the question of what to do of them. Should people accept them as inspiration for the future social order or are they merely pretty fantasy globe to run away to occasionally? It is quite obvious that Callenbach, in fact, thought this type of society could be achieved; and with his persuasive plan and smart arguments, I will never believe he is entirely incorrect.


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