The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet

The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet

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by Ramez Naam
     
 

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Climate change. Finite fossil fuels. Fresh water depletion. Rising commodity prices. Ocean acidification. Overpopulation. Deforestation. Feeding the world’s billions.

We’re beset by an array of natural resource and environmental challenges. They pose a tremendous risk to human prosperity, to world peace, and to the planet itself.

Yet, if we act,

Overview

Climate change. Finite fossil fuels. Fresh water depletion. Rising commodity prices. Ocean acidification. Overpopulation. Deforestation. Feeding the world’s billions.

We’re beset by an array of natural resource and environmental challenges. They pose a tremendous risk to human prosperity, to world peace, and to the planet itself.

Yet, if we act, these problems are addressable. Throughout history we’ve overcome similar problems, but only when we’ve focused our energies on innovation. For the most valuable resource we have isn’t oil, water, gold, or land – it’s our stockpile of useful ideas, and our continually growing capacity to expand them.

In this remarkable book, Ramez Naam charts a course to supercharge innovation – by changing the rules of our economy – that can lead the whole world to greater wealth and human well-being, even as we dodge looming resource crunches and environmental disasters and reduce our impact on the planet.

“Most books about the future are written by blinkered Pollyannas or hand-wringing Cassandras. Ramez Naam—Egypt-born, Illinois-raised, a major contributor to the computer revolution—is neither. Having thought about science, technology and the environment for decades, he has become that rarest of creatures: a clear-eyed optimist. Concise, informed and passionately argued, The Infinite Resource both acknowledges the very real dangers that lie ahead for the human enterprise and the equally real possibility that we might not only survive but thrive.” —Charles Mann, New York Times bestselling author of 1491 and 1493

“An amazing book. Throughout history, the most important source of new wealth has been new ideas. Naam shows how we can tap into and steer that force to overcome our current problems and help create a world of abundance.” —Peter H. Diamandis, MD, chairman and CEO, X PRIZE Foundation; chairman, Singularity University; and author, Abundance—The Future Is Better Than You Think

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“By providing a detailed, statistically rich historical background on many of the detrimental practices and attitudes that have brought humanity to the nail-biting precipice that may await a century from now, Naam strengthens his soberly confident, if not cautiously optimistic, predictions for how humans can walk it back from the edge of disaster.”—Booklist

"Seattle-based writer and former Microsoft executive Ramez Naam argues that we can solve the natural-resource and environmental challenges that face us — and grow global prosperity — if we tap our most abundant resource: innovation." —Seattle Times

““I’m an optimist,” he writes more than once. Optimism about the power of ideas offers no guarantees, as Naam is well aware; he carefully avoids complacency. Something needs to be done to stimulate our ingenuity, Naam writes. Equal parts pragmatic and inspiring, his book offers a helpful guide for that purpose.”—The Intelligent Optimist

“Computer scientist/writer Naam has produced a compelling road map for meeting the dire environmental, energy, and food challenges facing human civilization. He argues persuasively, drawing from a wealth of research, that humanity has the potential to innovate itself out of those problems, as it has before.”—Choice

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781611683769
Publisher:
University Press of New England
Publication date:
04/09/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
364
Sales rank:
1,036,450
File size:
3 MB

What People are saying about this

Steven Pinker
“This book contains a plan—probably the only plan—to save the world. Ramez Naam is unwilling to minimize the challenges that face us, but equally unwilling to sermonize or catastrophize. The Infinite Resource is an intelligent and responsible analysis, presented in lively prose; it should be required reading for all global thinkers and leaders.”
Ray Kurzweil
“Brilliant. Ramez Naam shows that innovation is the only force equal to the global challenges that face us, and that we can prosper if we harness it.”

Meet the Author

RAMEZ NAAM is a Fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. He is a former Microsoft executive, and former CEO of Apex Nanotechnologies, a nanotech startup. He is the author of More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement (2005), for which he was awarded the 2005 H.G. Wells Award. He lives in Seattle.

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The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
popscipopulizer More than 1 year ago
*A full executive summary of this book will be available at newbooksinbrief dot com, on or before Tuesday, April 30. We find ourselves at a crossroads, unsure of whether our impressive economic growth can continue, and equally unsure of whether our lavish lifestyle lives but on borrowed time (and resources). For writer Ramez Naam, though, we do have reason to be optimistic, and in his new book The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet Naam lays out the reasons for his optimism. To begin with, Naam argues that the natural resources on our planet are far from running out. He assures us that there is enough water and arable land on the earth's surface, minerals in the earth's crust, and energy from the sun to feed the demands of the planet's plateauing population for time out of mind (especially when we reuse and recycle these resources, which is what we are increasingly doing). The problem, at present, is our relative inefficiency in accessing the planet's resources. Even here, though, Naam argues, there is room for optimism. For our saving grace is our ability to innovate. It is our ability to innovate, Naam maintains, that is responsible for virtually all of our progress and economic growth to this point. It has brought us everything from the first stone tools and the ability to harness fire, to phones that fit in our pockets and allow us to access a world of information and all the world's people. Along the way (and more to the point), our ability to innovate has allowed us to access an ever greater percentage of the earth's resources (while at the same time decreasing the relative amount of resources that each of uses to achieve an increasingly affluent lifestyle). And the really wonderful thing about our ability to innovate is that, unlike natural resources, it does not shrink over time. Rather, it only expands. This is because innovation is built on ideas, and ideas themselves only grow and multiply. Ideas can even be shared without ever being diluted. Instead, the sharing of ideas often generates even more ideas. The power of ideas--and the innovation that goes along with it--truly is an infinite resource. With the right approach and policies, Naam argues, we can live in a world of plenty for all (and one that is clean to boot). This is a brilliant book. The writing is excellent, the logical flow is superb, the supporting evidence is well-chosen and extensive, and the argument is air tight. In a world that is dominated by fear-mongering on the one hand, and blind optimism on the other, Naam is a shining beacon of sober and rational thought. If you are looking for a big-picture view of the challenges we face and how best to meet them, this book is for you. A full executive summary of the book will be available at newbooksinbrief dot com, on or before Tuesday, April 30; A podcast discussion of the book will be available shortly thereafter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is thoroughly researched and highly compelling. Naam meticulously lays out the facts that lead him to believe that our society, and the globe it depends on, are at a crossroads. Our oceans are overfished and acidifying, our population is expanding, our climate is changing, and the price of oil is climbing. Unlike a standard liberal polemic, however, Naam makes a strong case that we can meet these challenges through focused, on-going innovation - including nuclear power and GMOs. His is a unique view that does conform to the standard spin and dogma that currently polarizes American politics. Naam is an optimist but he is also a realist. He clearly believes that we cannot craft the future we want if we do not acknowledge the problems we currently face. This book will challenge your assumptions, lead you to scrutinize your own beliefs, and perhaps change the way you see the world.