Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet Hardcover – 27 Mar 2008
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aLucid, quietly urgent, and relentlessly logical... this is Bigthink with a capital B.a
a"The New York Times Book Review"
aJeffrey Sachs never disappoints. . . . This book is an excellent resource for all those who want to understand what changes the twenty-first century may bring.a
aKofi Annan, winner of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize and former secretary-general of the United Nations
a"Common Wealth" explains the most basic economic reckoning that the world faces.a
aAl Gore, winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize and former vice president of the United States
"Lucid, quietly urgent, and relentlessly logical... this is Bigthink with a capital B."
-"The New York Times Book Review"
"Jeffrey Sachs never disappoints. . . . This book is an excellent resource for all those who want to understand what changes the twenty-first century may bring."
-Kofi Annan, winner of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize and former secretary-general of the United Nations
""Common Wealth" explains the most basic economic reckoning that the world faces."
-Al Gore, winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize and former vice president of the United States --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Jeffrey D. Sachs is Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, the Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development and the global best-selling author of The End of Poverty. He is also the BBCs Reith Lecturer for 2007 and is internationally renowned for his work as an economic advisor to governments around the world.
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Top Customer Reviews
Sachs considers that, with 6.6bn people, we live on a "very crowded planet". (There are those who disagree: see Julian Simon and his followers, for example (there are some excellent lectures on YouTube), who believe that there need be no practical upper limit to the number of people on the planet.) Personally, however, I am instinctively with Sachs on this one, and even if Simon turns out to be right I would rather we approached further population increases rather cautiously. Sachs demonstrates how the key to lowering population growth depends above all on reducing infant mortality in those areas of greatest poverty that are also the areas of highest population growth - sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and some parts of South America. That in turn depends as much on reducing that poverty as tackling disease directly, and that on education, appropriate investments and support, economic participation in the global economy, etc. These were the subject of the "Millennium Promises" that the developed world made in 2000 but which, as Sachs points out, are a long way from being delivered.Read more ›
Unfortunately, it's still the environment where Sachs falls down. The sections on water and conservation are useful, but climate change is summarily cured with the hope that "powerful technologies will likely be available to enable us to mitigate the climate shocks at very modest cost". He also dismisses the oil crisis, saying we have enough fossil fuels "for this century", despite a wealth of information to the contrary.
His analysis is much better on population, with some harsh truths for the US government on its policies in Africa. On the development side Sachs continues his championing of the Millennium Development Goals, and the Millennium Villages project. Sachs does what he does best here, pricing up change to show just how affordable it is, showing that the problem is a lack of will, not of resources. All the development initiatives recommended here would cost no more than 0.7% of the rich world's income, which is what we have already promised in aid.
The idea at the heart of 'Commonwealth' is a call for greater international cooperation. "The main problem," writes Sachs, "is not the absence of reasonable and low-cost solutions, but the difficulty of implementing global cooperation to put those solutions in place." This is the point world leaders should hear loudest and clearest from Sach's latest book: that all our biggest problems can be solved, but global problems need global solutions, and we need to learn to work together.
Commonwealth contains a number of startling insights. First, the human domination of major components of our world. Humanity controls 45% of the land, around 60% of the water cycle and nearly 80% of marine fisheries. Agriculture is the principal user of water and uses as much as all the rest of the demand put together. As a result the Ganges, the Yellow River and the Rio Grande no longer reach the sea because the water is abstracted along the way. We are using groundwater, otherwise known as "fossil water" because it's been trapped underground for millions of years, in the mistaken belief that it's an infinite resource.
Sachs shows how we can address these problems and in particular the problem of population growth. He shows how government intervention is essential and demonstrates that the free-market economies will not address these problems. He also shows that social welfare economies outspend both free markets and mixed economies on R&D, they contribute more in aid and have the lowest proportion of their domestic population in poverty.
Sachs is an American, but that does not stop him from criticizing his country. He complains that poverty in the US is more widespread than in even the average free-market economy. The US struggles to meet its 0.7% GDP target for foreign aid, yet spent $572bn on the military in 2007. This is nearly as much as the whole of the military spending by all the other countries in the world. Spend on humanitarian and development aid by the US was just £14bn. In Sachs' opinion, few of the world's current problems can be solved by military means.
This book was written and published in 2008. It closed on an optimistic note.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I should say that the seller did an excellent job - 5 stars for the seller. However the book itself is absolutely terrible, a typical mass production line by sachs. Read morePublished 12 months ago by ew
A far-reaching book that explains most of the issues very simply and clearly. Suffers a bit from repetition, for avoidance of all doubt, which given the size of the book, doesn't... Read morePublished 18 months ago by CNR
Whether or not you "believe" in globalisation or is interested in politics, as such, this is book should be on your essential reading list, because it gives a rounded (but not... Read morePublished on 19 Jan. 2010 by Maveric
What is this book about? It's about our future. Jeffrey Sachs describes the world in the twenty first century. Read morePublished on 25 July 2009 by Bernd Kotz
Jeffrey Sachs is special adviser on the UN's Millennium Development Goals to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Read morePublished on 9 Jun. 2009 by William Podmore
The author's basic premise - just give 2% of world GDP to sorting out the environment and helping the poor - is untenable. Read morePublished on 22 April 2009 by manager
Famed economist Jeffrey Sachs manages to deliver pessimistic news in an optimistic way. Yes, the Earth faces dire threats from global warming, poverty, war, deforestation and mass... Read morePublished on 25 Sept. 2008 by Rolf Dobelli
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