Monday, June 30, 2008

"Common Wealth" Book Discussion: Part 1

Hi! Welcome to the first installment of our book discussion about “Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet” by Jeffrey Sachs. I’ll kick it off by posting questions and reactions to Part One and everyone is welcome to respond in the comment section. Feel free to pose your own ?’s and comments. As long as it’s related to Sach’s book, we’re good. I would like to encourage a respectful dialogue, so please…no profanity and use people’s on-line names only (even if you know who they are!) The post will stay up indefinitely and will be here to respond to whenever you are ready. So here we go…
Although I liked the set up to the book and am happy the MDG’s were presented so early, most of my interest came up about 30 pages into it. There is one paragraph on p 31 that starts “The growing (economic) gap is dangerous in countless ways.” This paragraph is one of the reasons I love Sachs. He briefly and eloquently weaves together reasons why we should care about leaving developing nations behind including personal suffering, population growth rate, unstable political situations, and environmental reasons. I wish I could be so succinct. I love that paragraph.

The whole section from p 31-35 made me think about how our presidential candidates talk a lot about green jobs and green tech, but not about poverty. I guess people against federal spending for poverty alleviation in other countries might at least get behind federal spending for scientific discovery to help keep our nation on the cutting edge. Now, I can see why political candidates use the language of “keeping our nation on top” so much in this context. It is election-winning language that can draw in voters rooting for the global common good as well as voters interested in furthering US dominance.

A small thing that made me smile…in the example on p 38, the hypothetical rancher is female. Promote gender equality, indeed! (MDG #3) :)

I heartily believe that public policies promoting voluntary reduction of fertility rates (p 41) are highly desirable. I’m often at a loss wondering what those policies would be. Obviously, China’s One-Child policy isn’t something I’m crazy about so I’m always open to hearing other alternatives. Anyone have any?

I was surprised to read the section on p43 about having centuries left of “nonconventional fossil fuels” like tar sands and oil shale. I don’t remember hearing any of that before, nor this spin on environmental energy issues… “running out of natural resources is not the right way to describe the threat” Interesting.

The part about introducing fish farms to make ocean fisheries sustainable (p44) surprised me. Other authors had led me to believe that fish farming was polluting and bad. I don’t know what to think about that now.

I loved the section (p46) about the examples of global cooperation really working. I have highlighted this section to refer to for later writing about the importance of nations working together.

In my head, when I’ve been reading, I’ve been making a list of how I should live based on the info I’m reading about. I’m not doing all these things, but so far I make out that I should…
- have a small (as opposed to large) family or adopt
- live in the country, definitely not on the coast
- Be vegetarian or eat less meat
- Exercise
- Use solar or wind energy
New Year’s Resolutions for a Crowded Planet?

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