Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet

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In Common Wealth, Jeffrey D. Sachs-one of the world's most respected economists and the author of The New York Times bestseller The End of Poverty- offers an urgent assessment of the environmental degradation, rapid population growth, and extreme poverty that threaten global peace and prosperity. Through crystalline examination of hard facts, Sachs predicts the cascade of crises that awaits this crowded planet-and presents a program of sustainable development and international cooperation that will correct this ...

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Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet

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In Common Wealth, Jeffrey D. Sachs-one of the world's most respected economists and the author of The New York Times bestseller The End of Poverty- offers an urgent assessment of the environmental degradation, rapid population growth, and extreme poverty that threaten global peace and prosperity. Through crystalline examination of hard facts, Sachs predicts the cascade of crises that awaits this crowded planet-and presents a program of sustainable development and international cooperation that will correct this dangerous course. Few luminaries anywhere on the planet are as schooled in this daunting subject as Sachs, and this is the vital product of his experience and wisdom.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The 20th century saw the end of European dominance of the global scene. According to Jeffrey Sachs, the 21st century will bring changes even more sweeping. The author of The End of Poverty predicts more than the eclipse of the American Empire; he foresees a drastic rebalancing of economics and politics among regions of the world. The time, he says, is quickly approaching when the world will be too crowded and dangerous for "Great Games" strategies in the Middle East or elsewhere. Eventually, nations great and small will be forced to confront the defining challenge of the new century: the reality that humanity shares a common fate and that any clash of civilizations would be our last. A major book by a bestselling author.
From the Publisher
"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

Daniel Gross
Even congenital optimists have good reason to suspect that this time the prophets of economic doom may be on point, with the advent of seemingly unstoppable developments like climate change and the explosive growth of China and India. Which is why Sachs's book—lucid, quietly urgent and relentlessly logical—resonates…Sachs smartly describes how we got here, and the path we must take to avert disaster. The director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and the author of The End of Poverty, Sachs is perhaps the best-known economist writing on developmental issues (or any other kind of issues) today. And this is Bigthink with a capital B.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

In this sobering but optimistic manifesto, development economist Sachs (The End of Poverty) argues that the crises facing humanity are daunting-but solutions to them are readily at hand. Sachs focuses on four challenges for the coming decades: heading off global warming and environmental destruction; stabilizing the world's population; ending extreme poverty; and breaking the political logjams that hinder global cooperation on these issues. The author analyses economic data, demographic trends and climate science to create a lucid, accessible and suitably grim exposition of looming problems, but his forte is elaborating concrete, pragmatic, low-cost remedies complete with benchmarks and budgets. Sachs's entire agenda would cost less than 3% of the world's annual income, and he notes that a mere two days' worth of Pentagon spending would fund a comprehensive antimalaria program for Africa, saving countless lives. Forthright government action is the key to avoiding catastrophe, the author contends, not the unilateral, militarized approach to international problems that he claims is pursued by the Bush administration. Combining trenchant analysis with a resounding call to arms, Sachs's book is an important contribution to the debate over the world's future. (Mar.)

Copyright 2007Reed Business Information
School Library Journal

In his first book, The End of Poverty, development economist and UN special adviser Sachs laid out how extreme poverty in places like Africa could be alleviated. Here, he identifies and offers strategies for dealing with the leading global threats of the coming decades, such as environmental degradation, overpopulation, and resource depletion, arguing persuasively that much of the threat to humanity comes from those living in extreme poverty. He calls for wealthy nations to invest in efforts to improve the conditions of the extremely poor and thereby lessen the impact of extreme poverty on the planet. He explains in detail the goals that need to be met and how governments, not-for-profits, the private sector, and even individuals, can cooperate to achieve them. He reserves much of his criticism for the United States, which he says spends far too much on military technology that will prove ineffective in dealing with the true threats to our security. Though Sachs avoids jargon and writes clearly, the book would be heavy going for casual readers. Nevertheless, his work is an eloquent plea and a solid argument for global economic and political cooperation. Highly recommended for most libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ4/15/07.]
—Lawrence R. Maxted

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Reviews
Economist Sachs (Earth Institute/Columbia Univ.; The End of Poverty, 2005, etc.) limns social, environmental and economic forces that are reshaping the planet-for better or worse remains to be seen. Thanks to technological and agricultural innovations, Sachs writes, economic growth has reached into every corner of the globe, particularly in Asia, and "the world on average is rapidly getting richer in terms of income per person." At the same time, the population continues to grow, increasingly concentrated in vast cities. More people earning more means more consumption. In the face of this and against the likelihood of resource scarcity, can that growth be sustained? Sachs examines the prospects, suggesting that the greater challenge may be simply to lift the poor nations of the world, mostly in Africa, to some sort of health while improving life everywhere. In that regard, he observes, citizens of the United States have suffered the dismantling of social services, a "great right-wing attack [that] . . . has systematically reduced the scope of the social welfare system in health care, job protection, child support, housing support, and retirement security." Yet, he optimistically adds, the financial cost of making "major corrections" is small relative to the size of the U.S. economy, assuming proper prioritizing-the war in Iraq, for instance, is costing "roughly 1 percent of national income each year in direct outlays" that could otherwise subsidize universal healthcare coverage. In Africa, improvement in public investments-assuming corruption in the system can be removed, that is-can spur private investment and even prompt an economic boom. The future need not be grim, Sachs maintains,but getting to a better one will require concerted international effort, UN leadership and private initiative. A welcome contribution to the sustainable-development literature, accessible to nonspecialist readers but most useful to those with grounding in economics and international policy. Agent: Andrew Wylie/The Wylie Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143114871
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/24/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 441,837
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffrey D. Sachs is the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is also Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. From 2002 to 2006, he was Director of the UN Millennium Project and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals, the internationally agreed goals to reduce extreme poverty, disease, and hunger by the year 2015. Sachs is also President and Co-Founder of Millennium Promise Alliance, a nonprofit organization aimed at ending extreme global poverty.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Edward O. Wilson xi

Part 1 New Economics for the Twenty-first Century

1 Common Challenges, Common Wealth 3

2 Our Crowded Planet 17

Part 2 Environmental Sustainability

3 The Anthropocene 57

4 Global Solutions to Climate Change 83

5 Securing Our Water Needs 115

6 A Home for All Species 139

Part 3 The Demographic Challenge

7 Global Population Dynamics 159

8 Completing the Demographic Transition 183

Part 4 Prosperity for All

9 The Strategy of Economic Development 205

10 Ending Poverty Traps 227

11 Economic Security in a Changing World 255

Part 5 Global Problem Solving

12 Rethinking Foreign Policy 271

13 Achieving Global Goals 291

14 The Power of One 313

Acknowledgments 341

List of Acronyms 347

Notes 349

References 361

Index 371

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Humane and hopeful

    Jeffrey Sachs is special adviser on the UN's Millennium Development Goals to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. He urges that the principles of social justice should guide economic forces, not profit, and he argues that problems need diplomacy and development, not war, sanctions and threats. Development brings security, not vice versa.

    As he notes, "A world of untrammelled market forces and competing nation-states offer no automatic solutions." "Market forces by themselves do not optimally allocate society's resources." "Market forces alone will not overcome poverty traps."

    He shows in detail that market forces cannot deliver R&D or ensure the adoption of new technologies or control population growth or protect the environment or prevent species loss or get medicine to the poorest. The market pays no heed to future generations. As we can all now see, capitalism is self-reinforcing, not self-correcting.

    We have the technology, industry and resources to solve all our problems. As Sachs writes, "Earth has the energy, land, biodiversity, and water resources needed to feed humanity and support long-term economic prosperity for all. The problem is that markets might not lead to their wise and sustainable use." He urges countries to convert commons from open-access to community management, not privatise them.

    So within each country we need to develop and spread technologies suitable for that country, like carbon capture, drip irrigation, desalination, drought-resistant crops, high-yield wheat (which increased India's harvest from 11 million metric tons in 1960 to 55 million in 1990), vaccines for tropical diseases, and turning coal into petrol by Fischer-Tropsch liquefaction.

    Within each country, we should promote welfare. Social welfare states like Denmark and Finland do better than free market states like Britain and the USA. They have higher employment rates, higher GNPs per person and more equality. We can cut fertility rates, and therefore increase growth, by providing free access to health services, especially emergency obstetric care and family planning services, and by improving child survival rates.

    This is a humane and hopeful book. Sachs proves that we can raise incomes, end extreme poverty, stabilise the population, protect the environment and establish peace. Each needs public action, public funding, long-term thinking and planning, and we all have to take the responsibility.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2012


    Perfect for Communists and those rich enough to never have to worry about money.

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  • Posted January 24, 2010

    A Hopeful View of World Problems

    I loved this book. I was impressed with Sach's view of causality. Although I agreed with many of Sach's diagnoses, his solutions were sometime problematic for me as a Catholic, Pragmatist and Capitalist.

    It should be required reading for Social Studies credits in colleges

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2008

    help for all

    This book along with Purposefully Made by I. Fountaine Allen are good for people who are trying to make it in this society

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted March 31, 2011

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