Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Jeffrey Sachs Defines the Problem

Sachs, the End of Poverty / Earth Institute guy, has a new book out on the future of the planet. According to the Slate book club (in which the writer addresses Sachs directly):

"In making the argument for urgent action, you point to the six trends that are shaping this century: economic convergence, or the rapid growth of developing countries; rapid population growth, despite broadly shared declines in fertility, with the poorest countries set to experience the most rapid increases; the rise of Asia; urbanization; a looming environmental disaster, as humanity appropriates for its use an ever-rising share of global resources; and the tumbling of at least 1 billion people into a "self-reinforcing poverty trap."

"In particular, you stress the need to secure four high-priority global goals: first, "sustainable systems of energy, land and resources use that avert the most dangerous trends of climate change, species extinction, and destruction of ecosystems"; second, "stabilization of the world's population at eight billion or below by 2050 through a voluntary reduction of fertility rates"; third, "the end of extreme poverty by 2025 and improved economic security within the rich countries as well"; and, finally, "a new approach to global problem solving based on co-operation among nations and the dynamism and creativity of the nongovernmental sector."

Agree, mostly. I disagree that extreme poverty defines this century as opposed to every other century in human history. I don't think the future of the planet depends on the eradication of poverty or world peace, not the same way as it depends on sustainability. If it does, I don't think we're going to get there before the Messiah.

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