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Treasures of the Earth: Need, Greed, and a Sustainable Future Hardcover – October 27, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ali, an associate environmental studies professor at the University of Vermont, examines humanity's treasure impulse—our drive to collect items of value—and chronicles the destruction that our appetite for gold, iron ore, diamonds and oil has wrought upon the earth. With a historical tour of the treasure impulse from the Bronze Age to conceptual art dealing, the book comes to an admirably pragmatic thesis—namely that consumption cannot be reasonably curbed, but can be altered significantly to propel development while becoming more environmentally responsible. Novel and potentially effective proposals are made (such as a campaign—along the lines of nutrition labels found on food—that would make consumers aware of the environmental impact of various products), but not explored to a satisfactory degree. Much of the material should be of wide interest, but it is hampered by dry language and meandering arguments. And despite its wide-ranging cultural references and explanations of such basics as the periodic table, the book is not always friendly to lay readers, occasionally resorting to abstruse academic jargon. (Nov.)
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"This book provides a welcome linkage between environmental behavior and poverty alleviation. Ali's call for harnessing the earth's resources efficiently and equitably deserves to be heeded by all sectors of society and used as a means of spurring innovations towards sustainable development."—Muhammad Yunus; Founder, Grameen Bank; Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, 2006
(Muhammad Yunus)

"This book deals with equity and ethical dimensions of production and consumption across the planet—issues that are likely to become a growing source of tension between different countries. Hence, knowledge about how treasures of the earth should be utilized equitably would help in framing appropriate policies for the future."—R. K. Pachauri, Director General, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), and Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Along with former Vice President Al Gore, the IPCC under Dr. Pachauri's Chairmanship was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the year 2007
(R. K. Pachauri)

"The history of human relationships with Earth's resources is an important story and Ali tells it from an extraordinarily wide perspective. The interaction of our fascination with these materials and the implications of consumption behavior for the environment deserves the attention that Ali gives it in this quest to understand the psychology of treasure-seeking."-Thomas Graedel, Yale University
(Thomas Graedel)

“This compelling narrative about the social, economic, and environmental effects of the quest for mineral wealth shows the human impulse of ‘acquisitiveness.’ Ali distinguishes between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ to develop the links between consumption, environmental degradation, and human well-being.”—John Gowdy, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
(John Gowdy)

Finalist for the 2009 Book of the Year Award, presented by ForeWord magazine
(Book of the Year Award ForeWord Magazine 2010-01-01)

“Saleem H. Ali is pro-consumption and pro-environment.”--Forbes Magazine
(Forbes Magazine)

“[Ali] has faith in the idea that natural resources can unite rather than divide communities. . . . If Ali can get miners and environmentalists talking to one another, he can be viewed as a true alchemist.”--Elisabeth Eaves, Forbes Magazine
(Elisabeth Eaves Forbes Magazine)

“An excellent read for anyone who wants to have in hand a summary of what is going on today in the ecology of extractive industries. . . . The author has scoured the world for stories. . . and his efforts have been generously rewarded.”--Joel Gibbons, Journal of Markets and Morality
(Joel Gibbons Journal of Markets and Morality)

"[This book] acknowledges that our obsession for all that bling yields environmental destruction and social inequity but also fuels creativity, the desire for discovery, and needed economic development. Properly channeled, the treasure impulse might actually propel us toward a fairer and better world."--Naazish YarKhan, Quick Picks and Must Reads, Huffington Post
(Naazish YarKhan Huffington Post)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (October 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300141610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300141610
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,590,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rashid Ali on December 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Rashid Ali writes:

The author has successfully merged a wide gamut of interrelated topics associated with "Treasures of Earth". Fascinating facts both historical and modern on ores, metals, stones, coal & diamonds mining, necessary diet minerals, hydro carbons, nuclear & synthetic materials and our crucial relationship with these materials which are necessary for human survival.
By using an intellectual approach to the English language, a plethora of references to economic history and addressing several scientific disciplines creates a rich and eloquent text with substantial evidence. However, to value this publication truly, the reader will need some background in earth sciences, current environmental concerns, human development and conflict management.
The author traverses evolution of human development throughout ages and prevalent use of materials for industry, warfare, human survival tools and ornamental value. There are connections made between excessive consumption and depletion with subsequent demise of civilizations.
While this book will make an interesting read for students and adults of all backgrounds and ages, it is a scholarly work where past, present and future come together. There are ample warnings for present generation of potential negative impact on environment and human development due to excessive consumption. Nevertheless, the author provides hope that with proper management of depletion of resources, development of synthetic materials and alternate energy sources there is a bright future for humankind
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