Currently Reading: The Plundered Planet

The Plundered Planet: Why We Must, and How We Can, Manage Nature for Global Prosperity (2010) is Oxford economist Paul Collier’s attempt to find a middle ground between the extremism of the climate change-denying “Ostriches” and Environmental Romanticism, and between economists and environmentalists.

The main thesis of Collier’s is that in order to avoid environmental plunder and ensure prosperity, there must be a combination of nature, technology and regulation (good governance); stating that ‘We are ethically obliged to pass on to future generations the equivalent value of the natural assets that we were bequeathed by the past.’

Collier has stated that “There is no substitute… for building a critical mass of informed opinion”. While technology facilitates plunder, it also creates a method to share knowledge at speed and with large audiences. The challenge, “is to ignite the information transformation process.” A shift from environmental plunder to sustainable management of resources is a historic opportunity to benefit the world’s poor: “If these resources are harnessed for sustained development… they [the poor] can drag themselves decisively from poverty to prosperity.” Perhaps so, but surely that window of opportunity is limited, and so must be acted upon with urgency in order for a truly prosperous outcome to take place…


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