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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 degrad 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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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 degrad 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.

47 review for A Poverty of Reason: Sustainable Development and Economic Growth

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sara Christians

    Beckerman makes some good points regarding sustainable development. As a grad student, I took a course in sustainable engineering and my eyes were opened then to the arbitrary standards involved in "sustainability" and that they generally benefit the most elite in society. Most, however, don't understand this, as it is fashionable and considered compassionate and progressive to support environmental sustainability. I appreciated Beckerman's approach from an economic standpoint, which is highly r Beckerman makes some good points regarding sustainable development. As a grad student, I took a course in sustainable engineering and my eyes were opened then to the arbitrary standards involved in "sustainability" and that they generally benefit the most elite in society. Most, however, don't understand this, as it is fashionable and considered compassionate and progressive to support environmental sustainability. I appreciated Beckerman's approach from an economic standpoint, which is highly rational. I wish he had expanded more on some of his arguments rather than have such a condensed booklet, but overall, this was an interesting read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    J.S.

    A popular idea lately with government and the media has been "sustainable development," which is that we are rapidly depleting essential natural resources and are thus short-changing future generations. Beckerman contends that the whole notion is false and, in spite of regular predictions throughout history of shortages, we haven't run out of such resources, but even if we did there are free market mechanisms to counter such conditions. Also, since future generations are likely to be more prospe A popular idea lately with government and the media has been "sustainable development," which is that we are rapidly depleting essential natural resources and are thus short-changing future generations. Beckerman contends that the whole notion is false and, in spite of regular predictions throughout history of shortages, we haven't run out of such resources, but even if we did there are free market mechanisms to counter such conditions. Also, since future generations are likely to be more prosperous than we are now, we have no such obligations to sacrifice for benefits of dubious value. He goes on to argue that projections of climate change are likewise not worrisome, because technology will allow us to adapt, and any precautions taken now should be cost-effective or should not be attempted (the "Precautionary Principle"). Overall, he advocates more for the poor of the world and improving their conditions as the best way to ensure future improvements in the environment. He argues that they need access to sufficient energy supplies (regardless of carbon emissions) to improve their lot and to deny it to them is a form of imperialism, and points out that developed nations take much better care of the environment than developing nations. Much of his logic is persuasive, especially as he explains how market mechanisms will deal with possible fuel shortages in the future. For example, if known reserves of oil become depleted (and known reserves are ample for a long time yet) prices will increase which will encourage the discovery of more sources, and technology will find a way to obtain the oil from sources that were previously too expensive to mine (such as the tar sands in Canada). Technology is an important part of the equation, because future advances will also improve renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind which are currently not economically viable. He also points out that numerous and repeated past predictions of shortages of essential materials (such as lead, tin, and oil among many others) have never come true. The weakest point of the book (and maybe I just failed to properly understand his reasoning) was that he looks at everything from an economic perspective. He acknowledges that there are aesthetic or spiritual values associated with wilderness and natural environments that are difficult to quantify with simple monetary values, but he dismisses such things as simple failures in allocating property rights (such as placing a value on clean air or water, and charging polluters for fouling such public resources). I found his arguments that species biodiversity has value to us only for the potential of future medicines to be unconvincing, and his argument that caution in proceeding with genetically-modified foods only harms the poor of the world to be reckless (although I'll agree that current policies are overly cautious). Also, he limits his critique of sustainable development mostly to mineral and energy resources where the extent of reserves is poorly known, and fails to address how it might be applied in situations such as fishing, where numbers can be more easily estimated and depletion more readily observed. Overall, the book brings up many interesting points that are seldom thought through properly in the current debates over our responsibilities regarding climate change and preserving the environment - and our responsibilities for meeting the needs of the poor of the world. Good reading for anyone who is seriously concerned about such important issues and willing to keep an open mind.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tami

    I really only read the first chapter. It is anti-sustainable development. Well, she says we don't need to worry about it. That is a normal republican view and I want a different perspective so I posted it at paperbackswap.com and somebody else can enjoy it. I really only read the first chapter. It is anti-sustainable development. Well, she says we don't need to worry about it. That is a normal republican view and I want a different perspective so I posted it at paperbackswap.com and somebody else can enjoy it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Salvatori

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chris Kelly

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bill

  7. 5 out of 5

    C.M.J. Wallace

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ruth Bartel

  9. 4 out of 5

    Free Polazzo

  10. 5 out of 5

    Grant

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stifynsemons

  13. 4 out of 5

    Scott Daniel

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sambit Behera

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ben Meek

  16. 4 out of 5

    John Reis

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Schneider

  18. 4 out of 5

    BookSwim.com Book Rental Online

  19. 5 out of 5

    John

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alice

  21. 4 out of 5

    Niall Patrick

  22. 5 out of 5

    Wei Wei

  23. 5 out of 5

    Robin Riester

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shay

  25. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  26. 5 out of 5

    Anna

  27. 4 out of 5

    Saurabh

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brad Bennett

  29. 4 out of 5

    Amrita

  30. 4 out of 5

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    Rianne Veen

  32. 5 out of 5

    Betsy Dion

  33. 4 out of 5

    Goldgilk mok

  34. 5 out of 5

    Valentine

  35. 4 out of 5

    Mihaela

  36. 5 out of 5

    Spencer

  37. 5 out of 5

    a.deep.life

  38. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

  39. 5 out of 5

    Samscibetta

  40. 4 out of 5

    Mike Heyd

  41. 5 out of 5

    Omar Robles

  42. 5 out of 5

    Khetho

  43. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

  44. 4 out of 5

    Linus Blomqvist

  45. 4 out of 5

    Biblioteca Sardegna Ricerche

  46. 4 out of 5

    Hunter Williams

  47. 5 out of 5

    John

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