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Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet Paperback – February 24, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
-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
Top Customer Reviews
The list of "six earth changing trends" starts with convergence. Thanks to globalization and relatively peaceful environment despite some regional tensions, most developing countries are catching up fast for the lost time in the last three decades. Sachs explains the concept of convergence and a thumb rule for forecasting faster growth rates of poorer countries, relative to their income levels. The good news is that poorer countries can grow faster. The flip side is that there are about 6 times more people on this planet today than in 1830 and this is expected to grow by another 40 % to 9.2 billion by 2050. Assuming steady economic growth rates, the global GNP is expected to reach around $ 400 Trillion from the current $ 67 Trillion, a six fold increase.
The bad news is that this may not be achievable if we continue to adopt conventional technologies that deplete natural resources that have an adverse impact on the already fragile environment. Sachs quantifies his using the I = P*A*T equation, where the environmental impact of development equals the product of population, average income and the negative effect of conventional technologies. That means that by 2050, we would have environmental pollution levels that are about 8.4 times than today, which is clearly unsustainable. Hence the urgent need for adopting sustainable technologies on a rapid scale, whereby I=P*A/S where S in the denominator stands for sustainable technologies.
The impact of global warming is also explained extremely well.Read more ›
Sachs is obviously a liberal with a grandiose plan that many will call utopian. He has been famously criticized by conservatives such as William Easterly in The White Man's Burden. Conservatives are not keen on large-scale plans in general, and they are generally cynical about what governments and humanitarian aid agencies can accomplish. However, in spite of their differences, Sachs and Easterly share some common ground. They both believe that small targeted projects that are either monitored or bypass corrupt government officials can be effective. Sachs is at his best when he draws on work done at the Earth Institute, of which he is director.Read more ›
I also was somewhat annoyed with the partisan tone the book took on at times. I was annoyed not because I necessarily disagreed with Sachs, but rather than it seemed to actively work to defeat the purpose of the book. I feel like much of this book was written to move people from complacency to a place of better understanding, and hopefully to action. The constant, almost sniping, remarks about the failings of the Bush administration (and, to be fair, other administrations as well) could well be a turn-off to the very people Sachs would like to reach with this book. All that now said, his last chapter was very good. The specifics of 'here's what we need to do' to make inroads against poverty, population explosion, and the energy crisis leave one with a sense of hope; that the goals are reachable.
So, in the end I would recommend reading Collier and Friedman *instead* of this book, though you could certainly do a lot worse than reading this one.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you like learning about the environment this is a great book to read. It's a wonderful read.Published 14 months ago by Amanda Grant
In 2008 Jeffrey Sachs warned us in this book that "the worlds current ecological, demographic and economic trajectory is unsustainable. Read morePublished on April 5, 2014 by SeekingWisdom
I have read many other books by Sachs. He is a common sense economist. I have read many books by noted international economists. Read morePublished on March 2, 2014 by Richard J. Sarni
In order to end extreme poverty we must pursue an integrated approach to development.
MDG-based national plans of action
Increased public sector investments... Read more
I found much in the book I agreed with, but could not get over the author's constant self aggrandizement, US bashing, and condescending tone. Read morePublished on December 29, 2012 by William J Klenke
Sachs pulls out real statistics to show the trend of the present world economies toward convergence and discusses the trainwreck that is coming if changes are not made to cut... Read morePublished on November 28, 2012 by Amazon Customer
Jeffrey Sachs Critique
To start off this paper I would like to say a couple things about myself with regards to Jeffrey Sachs's book Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded... Read more