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But Will the Planet Notice?: How Smart Economics Can Save the World Hardcover – September 27, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang (September 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809052075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809052073
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,093,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“It’s always a pleasure to read a confident, funny and convincing writer who promotes counter-intuitive conclusions. If you like the idea of an environmentalist who works for one of the nation’s largest environmental groups making a full-throated argument against the Endangered Species Act . . . then But Will the Planet Notice?: How Smart Economics Can Save the World is the book for you.” —Dan Shapley, The Daily Green (blog)
 
“Wagner’s wry, witty prose brings rationality to an emotionally charged subject and urges us to take personal responsibility for the planet by demanding an economically sound solution to guiding market forces in the right direction, making it in our best interests to do the right thing.” —Publishers Weekly
 
“If you want to understand how an economist thinks about the biggest challenge our planet has ever stumbled up against, this book is an awfully good place to start!” —Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
 
“Idealism will not shift the choices of billions of people as effectively as self-interest. Gernot Wagner has written a lucid and enjoyable exposition of the underlying economics. We must remove the incentives to treat scarce resources as if they were free. He respects the moral principles of the idealists who want to change behavior by precept alone. But, as an economist, he knows that if we want less of anything, including pollution, we must raise its price.” —Martin Wolf, Financial Times
 
“This splendid book showcases why environmental economics is such an exciting field today. Who knew that an economist not named Krugman could write so well? I will buy my mom a copy.” —Matthew E. Kahn, author of Climatopolis: How Our Cities Will Thrive in Our Hotter Future
 
“As the earth approaches runaway global warming, Gernot Wagner lays out clearly the moral and economic reasoning we will need to make the tough choices ahead. His intellect is powerful, his style is engaging and humorous. But he is also rigorous and persistent, and he will stay with you until you “get it.” And that’s what we need. He takes the most relevant insights of classical economics, behavioral economics, moral philosophy and even libertarian doctrine and fuses them into a consistent and brilliant analytic construct for thinking about the global environmental threats that face us.” —Peter J. Goldmark, Jr., former chairman and CEO, International Herald Tribune
 
“Gernot Wagner underscores the ‘eco’ in economics, showing how markets that have lifted millions out of poverty could lift our planet out of peril.” —Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund and author of Earth: The Sequel
 
“For more than thirty years, I’ve been waiting for a book that would accurately embody an economic perspective on environmental policy and clearly present it to a truly broad readership. At last, Gernot Wagner has done it, and done it with style! His explanations and commentaries are true to the underlying science and economics, and his prose makes this not just a very interesting read, but an immensely enjoyable one. Whether you are on the right or the left of the political spectrum—or stuck in the middle like me—this is a book that you should read, and will be glad you did!” —Robert N. Stavins, Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government, Harvard Kennedy School

About the Author

Gernot Wagner is an economist at the Environmental Defense Fund. He teaches at Columbia and graduated from both Harvard and Stanford. He doesn’t eat meat, doesn’t drive, and knows full well the futility of his personal choices.

More About the Author

Gernot Wagner is an economist at the Environmental Defense Fund, teaches at Columbia, and graduated from Harvard and Stanford. He doesn't eat meat, doesn't drive, and knows full well the futility of his personal choices.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Public Optimization on September 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
But will the planet notice is a humorous, thoughtful, and honest take on tackling the world's environmental issues. Wagner shows that smart policies and markets can do far more to address the serious climate issues that the well-meaning instincts of the individual conservationists. He admits that often, efforts of "green living" are outweighed by a modern lifestyle including driving and flying. Overall, I found "But Will the Planet Notice" to be a very enjoyable read which offers serious advice in a way that everyone can understand. Highly recommended.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Rick on May 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book. I've read about +10 books lately on economics, the environment, the food industry, politics and books that try to combine some of these topics. Of these, Wagner's is one of the best. It would be great for anyone who wants an economics theory-in-practice-based understanding of environmental problems and their possible economics-based solutions.

Wagner focuses on the tension between free markets and the environment. On the one hand, we owe all the luxuries and technological progress of our 21st C lifestyles to a certain economic structure (free markets), and on the other hand our collective lifestyles (especially the more 'advanced' among the global population) is leading the world into environmental ruin. We love our lifestyles, we love the environment, and yet something's gotta give sooner or later. Aware of this fact, the knee-jerk eco-enlightened reaction is for us as individuals to minimize our carbon footprint (think, No Impact Man)--and that's hard to do, and most of us don't even know which of our choices have the biggest impact, and the entire structure of our lifestyles limits our eco-friendly options, not that it really matters b/c the planet won't notice. Although a book would be nice that shows us all the relative eco-consequences of my day-to-day individual choices, Wagner does not write such a book--he has a bigger fish to fry (or rescue!). Instead, he focuses on the kinds of changes that would need to happen in OUR way of life, as a whole, as a society, at the level of countries and the world. That is the only way real change can happen, that's the only way the planet will 'notice'. This is a big picture (structural)problem and it requires a big picture (structural) solution. What solutions can economics provide?
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By T. P. Olson on September 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is spectacular. Though the author has a Ph.D from Harvard, he writes like a cross between Malcolm Gladwell and Bill Bryson. While his topic -- how to harness economics to save the world from environmental disaster -- could scarcely be more serious -- his writing is witty, graceful, and compelling.

Wagner knows many of the economists whose theories he discusses in the book, and brings not only their ideas but their (always colorful) personalities to life. Along the way, he educates us about some of the unfortunate paradoxes of environmental regulation. It turns out, for example, that the Endangered Species Act often has the unhappy consequence of leading private landowners to destroy anything that could possibly be a habitat for an endangered species -- and thus make their land much less valuable commercially. Luckily, Wagner has a good solution.

Wagner's overall insight is that while individual action (like using energy-efficient windows) is a great idea, the only real solution to environmental problems is to harness economics to induce everyone -- not just a well-intentioned minority -- to do what needs to be done. His arguments and evidence in support of that point are clear, and hard to argue with.

This is a must-read for anyone who cares about the environment. Luckily, it's also a pleasure to read.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By I. Silverman on October 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Even though reversing global warming is a very serious topic, Wagner presents the problems and solutions in an interesting and entertaining way. Wagner's book is based on thorough research so that even a life-long environmentalist will learn surprising facts and get inspired.

Wagner praises individual action such as recycling, buying organic food, or using canvass bags etc. but he points out that those actions alone are not enough to reverse global warming. Why? It doesn't add up to make enough of a difference and not enough people are reducing their environmental footprint. Wagner lays out what the "smart economics" are that can save the world and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Davis on March 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book is well worth reading. Wagner does a great job of combining economic rationality with concern for the environment. He explains what will work well(cap and trade, carbon taxes) and what won't work (individual conservation) in the vital battle to mitigate climate change.

Probably the most key part of this book is Wagner's explanation of the concepts of externalities and tradeoffs. While these are basic principle in economics, they are not understood well by the general public. Wagner argues persuasively that neither socialism nor absolute free markets can save the environment. The problem is not bad people or evil corporations but perverse incentives. His solution--internalize the externalities. (It makes sense if you read the book. Trust me.)
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