A Poverty of Reason: Sustainable Development and Economic Growth

Overview

In this detailed economic investigation of sustainable development, a noted professor of economics argues that many of the alarms commonly sounded by environmentalists are, in fact, unfounded, and that current sustainable development policies should be reconsidered in light of their effects on the earth's human population, such as increased poverty and environmental degradation in developing countries. In a rare balanced counterpoint to popular sustainable development rhetoric, Professor Beckerman forces policy ...

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Overview

In this detailed economic investigation of sustainable development, a noted professor of economics argues that many of the alarms commonly sounded by environmentalists are, in fact, unfounded, and that current sustainable development policies should be reconsidered in light of their effects on the earth's human population, such as increased poverty and environmental degradation in developing countries. In a rare balanced counterpoint to popular sustainable development rhetoric, Professor Beckerman forces policy makers to consider whether future generations have rights that morally constrain and trump the claims of those alive today, particularly the masses of people living in dire poverty, arguing that the current sustainable development program is a menace to the prosperity and freedom of both current and future generations.

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Editorial Reviews

Foreign Affairs
Beckerman, an Oxford economist, takes on three phrases frequently invoked in debates over environmental policy: "sustainable development," "the precautionary principle," and "intergenerational equity." He demonstrates that each is highly problematic — and that some interpretations of them could have detrimental effects on the world's poor and on future generations. Beckerman finds clear thinking and clear expression deficient in most public debate (even among those who know better), and his discussion of climate change and biodiversity has resonance well beyond those two illustrations. The notion of "sustainable development," for example, rests on two erroneous assumptions, according to Beckerman. First, he finds the claim that continuing growth will ultimately exhaust the world's resources (and therefore stifle future growth) deeply flawed, both empirically and conceptually; future generations are in fact likely to be much better off. Second, he disputes the term's claim to the moral high ground, based on a view of intergenerational equity that cannot, Beckerman argues, withstand scrutiny. Serious debate about current actions (or inactions) with long-term effects must take into account Beckerman's cogent arguments.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780945999850
  • Publisher: Independent Institute, The
  • Publication date: 9/1/2002
  • Pages: 130
  • Sales rank: 1,420,241
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Wilfred Beckerman is an emeritus fellow of Balliol College at Oxford University. Dr. Beckerman is an economist and the author of many academic articles and several books including In Defence of Economic Growth, Small is Stupid and most recently Justice, Posterity and the Environment (with J. Pasek). Dr. Beckerman has served on Britain’s Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, and chaired the Academic Panel of Economists for the UK Department of the Environment from 1991 to 1996.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
Ch. 1 What Is Sustainable Development Supposed to Mean? 1
Ch. 2 Finite Resources and the Prospects for Economic Growth 9
Ch. 3 Energy and Biodiversity 19
Ch. 4 Climate Change 31
Ch. 5 The Precautionary Principle 43
Ch. 6 Bureaucratic Regulation and Protectionism 51
Ch. 7 The "Ethics" of Sustainable Development 63
References 77
Notes 83
Index 89
About the Author 95
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