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eBook A Poverty of Reason: Sustainable Development and Economic Growth download
Moneymaking
Author: Wilfred Beckerman
ISBN: 0945999852
Subcategory: Economics
Pages 112 pages
Publisher Independent Institute; 1st edition (September 1, 2002)
Language English
Category: Moneymaking
Rating: 4.2
Votes: 969
ePUB size: 1523 kb
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eBook A Poverty of Reason: Sustainable Development and Economic Growth download

by Wilfred Beckerman


Sustainable development's place in the moral high ground is questioned, as there are few coherent reasons to. .Beckerman contends that this criterios is not very helpful, and for a number of reasons.

Sustainable development's place in the moral high ground is questioned, as there are few coherent reasons to believe that sustainable development is an ethically superior goal. First, since not every need of the current generation is being met, why should future generations be any different? Furthermore, he reasons that people at different points in time or at different income levels or with different cultural or national backgrounds differ about the importance they attach to different needs.

Action against erosion and poverty induced agricultural land degradation in a number of African countries needs to be taken as strategy for achieving a number of the sustainable Development goals such as SDG-1(No Poverty).

Action against erosion and poverty induced agricultural land degradation in a number of African countries needs to be taken as strategy for achieving a number of the sustainable Development goals such as SDG-1(No Poverty), SDG-2 (No Hunger), SDG-8 (Economic Growth), and SDG-15. 3 (Land Degradation Neutral World). We propose an alternative analytical perspective to a descriptive statistics approach, emphasizing the discursive aspect of social processes.

Wilfred Beckerman is an outstanding economist of a type probably more common in Britain than America. Like Anthony de Jasay, Amartya Sen, and . Little, Beckerman is thoroughly at home in philosophy; and in A Poverty of Reason, he makes insightful remarks about the rights of future generations, equality, and the so-called "precautionary principle.

Oxford University economist Wilfred Beckerman puts sustainable development to the test, questioning several of its . Beckerman’s book, A Poverty of Reason, sparkles with provocative claims and vigorous insights

Oxford University economist Wilfred Beckerman puts sustainable development to the test, questioning several of its core claims: Will economic growth burn itself out by depleting the natural resources it requires? Will global warming wreak widespread havoc? Does human activity threaten to throw a delicate planet dangerously out of balance ? . Beckerman’s book, A Poverty of Reason, sparkles with provocative claims and vigorous insights. Advocates of ‘sustainable development’ are unlikely to be convinced by all of Beckerman’s claims; but they will learn a great deal from him, and refine their own views in the process.

What is sustainable development supposed to mean? - ch. 2. Finite resources and the prospects for economic growth - ch. 3. Energy and biodiversity - ch. 4. Climate change - ch. 5. The precautionary principle - ch. 6. Bureaucratic regulation and protectionism - ch. 7. The "ethics" of sustainable development - Notes - References - Index - About the author. Books for People with Print Disabilities. Internet Archive Books. Uploaded by ttscribe10. hongkong on June 28, 2018. SIMILAR ITEMS (based on metadata).

Sustainable Development and Economic Growth.

A Poverty of Reason; Sustainable Development and Economic Growth. Published by Thriftbooks. Beckerman's book as well as the substance of the environmental idea that Beckerman is challenging

A Poverty of Reason; Sustainable Development and Economic Growth. Beckerman's book as well as the substance of the environmental idea that Beckerman is challenging. Beckerman is criticizing the notion of "sustainability" - that the planet's development rate cannot be sustained in the future because resources will not be extractable at a rate that would keep up with future demand. Hence, sustainability isn't an aesthetic argument, but an economic one.

A Poverty of Reason book. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Start by marking A Poverty of Reason: Sustainable Development and Economic Growth as Want to Read: Want to Read savin. ant to Read.

Semantic Scholar extracted view of "A Poverty of Reason: Sustainable Development and Economic .

Semantic Scholar extracted view of "A Poverty of Reason: Sustainable Development and Economic Growth" by Richard Newell Cooper et a. cle{Cooper2004APO, title {A Poverty of Reason: Sustainable Development and Economic Growth}, author {Richard Newell Cooper and Wilfred Beckerman}, journal {Foreign Affairs}, year {2004}, volume {83}, pages {169} }.

Sustainable Development Books. Emeritus Fellow Wilfred Beckerman. A Poverty of Reason : Sustainable Development and Economic Growth. This button opens a dialog that displays additional images for this product with the option to zoom in or out. Tell us if something is incorrect.

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.
Fato
If you follow the news, deal with recent HS or even college graduates you will
know that there is a definite lack (poverty) of reason. Sadly this book does
a very mediocre job of explaining why.
Nuadazius
A laughable excuse for a scholarly book - beyond offensive misuse of research to support a shamelessly neoliberal approach to 'understanding' sustainability.
Altad
Will economic growth deplete the natural resources on which it depends? Are we in danger of running out of energy sources? Will global warming bring widespread devastation on the planet? Does unbridled economic growth threaten the balance of nature?

Looking at the evidence on these questions, Oxford University economist Wildred Beckerman finds that many of these fears are unfounded. While billions of people around the world suffer under appalling environmental conditions, such as a lack of clean water and sanitation, these problems are primarily caused by poverty, not unsustainable development.

Despite the fact that so many are touting the wisdom of "sustainable development" as though its meaning and desirability were an established fact, there is no widespread agreement over its meaning, and its desirability is too often not subjected to scientific, economic, and philosophical scrutiny.

The author points out in his introduction to the book that support for sustainable development is based on a confusion about its ethical implications and on a flagrant disregard of the relevant factual evidence.

The popularity of sustainable development is founded on two indefensible propositions, according to the author:

Economic growth will soon come up against the limits of resource availability.

Sustainable development represents the moral high ground.

It is argued that action is required in order to reduce to "sustainable" levels the rate at which resources are used, which, Beckerman argues, is an impossible task unless we were to stop using some resources completely. Also, he asserts, the risk to the human race from climate change is greatly exaggerated.

Sustainable development's place in the moral high ground is questioned, as there are few coherent reasons to believe that sustainable development is an ethically superior goal.

Chapter one focuses on two questions:

What exactly does sustainable development mean?

What is so good about it?

The World Commission on Environment and Development defines the term as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Beckerman contends that this criterios is not very helpful, and for a number of reasons.

First, since not every need of the current generation is being met, why should future generations be any different? Furthermore, he reasons that people at different points in time or at different income levels or with different cultural or national backgrounds differ about the importance they attach to different needs.

Also, this injunction leaves no room for trade-offs. If it is true that future generations will face serious environmental problems, how many of the needs and wants of the current generation are to be sacrificed in order to help future generations meet their needs? Do we eve know what these needs might be?

Another concept of sustainable development relates to the conservation of plant and animal species. What price must we pay to conserve all plant and animal species for posterity? Is this even the natural order of things? Given that approximately 98% of all the species that have ever existed are believed to have become extinct already, how many of us can truly say that we have suffered as a result?

As for the moral high ground, the idea that we have a responsibility to maintain the environment exactly as it is today is morally repugnant. Given the large numbers of people who are living in poverty and environmental degradation, we cannot ignore these real human needs in order to save every single one of the several million species of beetle that exist.

Chapter two concentrates on finite resources and the prospects for economic growth. Resources are either finite or they are not. If they are, then the only way to ensure that they last forever is to stop using them. But of course, even the most fanatical proponents of sustainability don't go that far, and would reasonably have to admit that the human race will eventually find ways of coping with the changes that take place in he balance between demand and supply of resources.

In other words, you can't have it both ways. Either resources are finite in some relevant sense, in which case even zero growth will fail to save us in the long run, or resources are not really finite in any relevant sense, in which case the argument for slowing growth collapses.

Actually, the author contends, not only are resources not finite in any relevant sense, but the evidence of all past history, including even the recent past, shows that there have been no trends toward the exhaustion of any resources that matter. History is littered with predictions of imminent resources scarcity that have subsequently been proven false.

In 1929, a study concluded that the world's resources of lead cannot meet the anticipated demand. Yet for the rest of the twentieth century, no one worried about a lead shortage. In fact, people have been more worried that there is too much of it around.

The same 1929 study concluded that the known resources of tin do not satisfy the increasing demand of the industrial nations, predicting that the supply of tin would be exhausted within ten years. More than forty years later, a 1972 report stated that tin reserves would last us for only another fifteen years. Yet here we are in 2004, still using up that ten year supply that we were believed to have back in 1929.

There are two chief reasons why predictions of imminent exhaustion of resources have proven false. First, they are invariably based on comparisons between existing known reserves and the rate at which they are being used up. Second, they ignore the economic mechanisms that are set in motion when any resource becomes scarce.

Even in the postwar world, with unprecedented rates of economic growth, resources have more than increased to meet demand. In 1945, estimated known copper reserves were 100 million metric tons. During the following twenty-five years of economic growth, 93 million metric tons were mined, yet the reserves were estimated at more than 300 million metric tons - three times what they were at the outset.

Whenever demand for any particular resource begins to run up against supply limitations, a wide variety of forces are set in motion to remedy the situation. These forces begin with a rise in price, which in turn leads to all sorts of secondary favorable feedbacks, including a shift to substitutes, an increase in exploration, and technical progress that brings down the cost of exploration, refining, and processing, as well as the costs of the substitutes.

Sustainable development schemes do not account for the probability that, without unnecessary economic intervention, future generations may be much wealthier than is the current generation. That is the trend. Before asking the present generation, including its poorest members, to make sacrifices in the interests of future generations, shouldn't we take account of the strong likelihood that the latter will be far richer than the former? Where is the high ground in taking from the poor to give to the rich?

Chapter 3 further explores the fallacy of basing predictions on current demands. Will future generations have the same reliance on oil and fossil fuels that we have today?

In addition to the constraints on materials such as food and energy, it is argued that economic growth is leading to mass destruction of biodiversity. This destruction, the proponents of sustainable development allege, has two types of harmful effects:

It deprives the human race of an essential input into our welfare, notably a source of future medicinal remedies;

We are depriving future generations of the environmental inheritance that is their due.

Most of the world's biodiversity is found in tropical or semitropical regions, which happen to be mainly in developing countries. In the past, any loss of biodiversity caused by humans was the result of hunting, but today it is caused almost entirely by the damage done to the habitat of millions of species that live in forests, particularly in tropical and semitropical regions.

These are difficult to measure because we don't know how many species are becoming extinct each year, or even how many there are to begin with. The recorded fact that 641 species have been certified as having become extinct since the year 1600 does not exclude the possibility that many others have become extinct without anyone knowing it, particularly given that the vast majority of all species, including plants and animals, are insects, and about 40% of these are beetles.

Beckerman argues that the most alarming features of the whole debate is the unscientific attitude of some distinguished biologists. There is no empirical basis for the fear that continued economic growth is unsustainable, he says. Even with respect to food or energy supplies, two types of resources that have been most frequently the subject of pessimistic predictions, there is no cause for alarm. The destruction of biodiversity also appears to be exaggerated, although the author concedes that there are some real problems in some countries.

Yet, he argues, slower growth is more likely to perpetuate market failures than to promote their elimination, as faster economic growth makes it easier to compensate those who may lose out from an elimination of market imperfections.

In Chapter 4, Beckerman takes on climate change. While environmental groups claim that unchecked climate change will lead to catastrophic declines in world income, requiring drastic international action to reduce carbon emissions, particularly by the advanced nations, who are regarded as morally responsible for the high carbon concentrations in the atmosphere.

However, the author contends, three key points need to be established in order to justify international action to reduce carbon emissions on the grounds of overall benefit to the global community:

Predictions of significant climate change are reasonably reliable;

The damage climate change might impose on the world as a whole will exceed the costs of limiting or preventing it; and

The distribution of the costs and benefits among countries of actions to drastically cut carbon emissions is accepted as reasonably equitable.

Only the first link in the chain of argument gets any attention in the media, perhaps because it is the only link that has any strength at all.

Even the predictions of significant climate change are probably exaggerated by the vast scientific and bureaucratic establishment that is heavily invested in advancing the threat of global warming.

Even assuming that the global consensus is correct and that man-made emissions of carbon dioxide will result in an rise in average global temperatures over the course of this century, Beckerman asserts that there is no foundation for the second and third points concerning the likely impact of climate change and the way it is distributed between countries and generations.

For the world as a whole, the author argues, the beneficial effects of moderate global warming in the range predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will outweigh its harmful effects chiefly because global warming will increase food production in what are now temperate or cold regions of the world.

With moderate global warming, some regions will be opened up for agriculture, while growing seasons will be extended in large areas, such as the northern portions of the United States, Canada, Russia, and China. Higher carbon concentrations in the atmosphere will raise crop yields.

For the world as a whole, global warming will mean more rain (or snow), and increasing cloud cover means that many parts of the world will be cooler during the day and warmer at night, leading to increased soil moisture.

Given that climate change can have favorable as well as unfavorable effects, particularly in light of the enormous obstacles to accurate predictions of climate change for individual regions, it isn't surprising that most experts cannot foresee the likely net damage for the world as a whole that might result from climate change.

It is true, Beckerman admits, that the impact of climate change on developing countries, where average temperatures are higher, soils are poorer, and technology and infrastructures are less developed, is likely to be harmful, yet he argues that faster economic development in these countries will help them to adapt to the change.

A major flaw in the more gloomy predictions is that they assume that farmers are stupid and incapable of any adaptation to climate variations.

Chapter 5 discusses the precautionary principle established as one of the basic principles of sustainable development.

The idea that there can be full scientific certainty about the consequences of any change in the environment is absurd, and if it had ever been taken seriously, we'd still be living in the Stone Age. Even changes that the environmentalists favor, such as replacement of fossil fuels with other sources of energy, will have environmental effects, and it is impossible to prove that they would not have undesirable consequences of their own.

It cannot be proven that there can never be harmful consequences to greater exploitation of solar energy, a longtime goal of the green movement.

Only about forty years ago, there was a widespread alarm that the world was entering a new ice age. Had policies been put into place to prevent this, the results may have been, as we now know, catastrophic.

Had we taken seriously past predictions of the imminent exhaustion of fossil fuels, not only would many developments that rely on inexpensive energy have been stifled in the interests of energy conservation, but many technological developments that permitted a vastly expanded disovery, exploitation, and use of sources of energy would have not have occurred. The world would be a poorer place, without many of the innovations we now depend upon, such as vaccines and antibiotics.

The author suggests, as an alternative to the precautionary principles of sustainable development, waiting until we have a better idea of what we may be dealing with. Large scale action, as suggested by the proponents of sustainable development, could be catastrophic.

In Chapter 6, Beckerman discusses the plan for bureaucratic regulation and protectionism.

At the 1992 UNCED, the United Nations adopted a document of several hundred pages, known as Agenda 21, which set out, among other things, the agreed intentions of the countries to take account of environmental objectives in their domestic policies, to monitor their own developments from the point of view of their sustainability, and to report on these developments to the newly established Commission on Sustainable Development.

In addition to the UN commission, countless other institutes, government departments, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), all for the purpose of promoting sustainable development, have been established all over the world. In the United States, even while our Legislature has refused to ratify Agenda 21, its policies have been adopted by our governmental agencies and departments.

One of the worst consequences of excessive bureaucratic intervention in daily life is the bureaucratic preference for regulation over market mechanisms to deal with social and economic problems. Clearly this is the case in environmental protection.

The author argues that it is immoral to use public funds for the purpose of helping plants rather than people, while reducing the future income growth prospects of the poorest nations by promoting the growth-reducing program of sustainable development.

Also, there is no reason why the taxpayers of wealthier nations should contribute to an action that is in the interests of a minority who happen to attach a high existence value to certain environmental assets. Taxpayers in rich countries may have higher priorities. Nothing prevents people who have a strong private preference for preserving rain forests or their indigenous species from organizing voluntary contributions to help such preservation in the same way that many charitable organizations exist so that people can make donations to help starving children overseas. Coercion to impose the environmental values of some groups of people in the developed world on the people of other nations is morally indefensible.

If other countries are to be punished in some way for failing to respect universal basic values, Beckerman asserts that we should take into consideration that many of them indulge in far worse crimes against humanity than cutting down their trees. Yet these violations of basic and universally accepted human rights do not seem to arouse the same indignation among the environmental protectionists that they feel toward the failure of governments to attach an overriding importance to the protection of the environment.

In the same way that for some people an excessive love of animals is the counterpart of hatred of human beings, in some people an excessive concern with future generations is the counterpart of indifference to the suffering of people alive today.

Chapter 7, the last of the book, discusses the ethics of sustainable development.

Beckerman points out that sustainable development is an excuse for a new form of imperialism. Regardless of the accuracy of the claims that are made, sustainable development is used as a means of controlling markets for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many. Sustainable development has practical implications that would be morally unacceptable even if its ethical foundations were valid in theory, which they are not.

Even accepting the arguments of the proponents of sustainable development, which the author does not, he suggests that the projected wants and needs of future generations do not ethically trump those of the current generation. The interests that they will have must take their place in the balance together with the interests of people alive today, many of whom live in dire poverty.

Still, he agrees that the interests of future generations shouldn't be ignored. He surmises that future generations are on a whole likely to enjoy much higher living standards than those prevailing today, unless growth is successfully curtailed. A rise in living standards will not ensure that all environmental problems will disappear, nor that poverty will be eradicated everywhere.

The moral policy suggested by Beckerman is to weigh the interests of different generations. The safest predication that can be made is that people will always want life, security, self-respect, and freedom from tyranny, oppression, and humiliation. Unfortunately, one can also safely predict that there will always be forces in society that will threaten these basic human wants.

In contrast with the problems of widespread poverty or acute environmental problems, one concern will never be eradicated: the ever-present threat to basic human rights.

Sustainable development represents one such threat.
Garne
Though it is unorthodox to do so, I believe I need to respond to Mr. Balfour's review because he appears to misunderstand the purpose of Prof. Beckerman's book as well as the substance of the environmental idea that Beckerman is challenging.
Beckerman is criticizing the notion of "sustainability" -- that the planet's development rate cannot be sustained in the future because resources will not be extractable at a rate that would keep up with future demand. Hence, sustainability isn't an aesthetic argument, but an economic one. Balfour's criticism that Beckerman does not consider the aesthetic arguments for environmentalism is misplaced because that is not Beckerman's project. Balfour's comments thus are akin to criticizing a military history book on Napoleonic tactics for not discussing the romance between Napoleon and Josephine.
For people intrigued with the arguments concerning sustainability, Beckerman's book is a must-read. It offers short but very thoughtful examinations of several apparently problematic assumptions that lie at the heart of the sustainability philosophy. The sustainability notion emerged about two decades ago when environmentalists were forced to retreat from their "finite resources" argument (i.e., the world will run out of resource X) because, as highlighted by the famous Julian Simon-Paul Weyrich bet, the idea that the planet would simply "run out" became too untenable for all but the most radical environmentalists to hold. The more thoughtful environmentalists shifted to the Malthusian/Ricardoian notion that extraction rates will one day be unable to keep pace with consumption -- in part because resource extractors in the future will constrict supply to further drive up prices.
Unlike the finite resources argument, the sustainability has good thought behind it. But does that theory hold up? Beckerman offers some pretty good arguments that it does not, and he also points out some very worrisome side-effects of the sustainability philosophy -- side-effects that could produce serious near-future ecological and human disasters.
Balfour is correct that we must give serious thought to future generations when we set current resource policies. Unfortunately, he does not appear to realize that his philosophy puts those children at risk, nor does he seem to appreciate that the environmental catastrophes that he laments -- overpopulation, subsistence farming -- occur in the Third World whose ecological ethic he cherishes instead of the First World whose ethic he derides. Fortunately, Beckerman -- as well as his future challengers and their respondents -- will promote a better world for the generations to come.