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Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet
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Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  1,029 ratings  ·  127 reviews
From one of the world's greatest economic minds, author of The New York Times bestseller The End of Poverty, a clear and vivid map of the road to sustainable and equitable global prosperity and an augury of the global economic collapse that lies ahead if we don't follow it

The global economic system now faces a sustainability crisis, Jeffrey Sachs argues, that will overtu...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published March 18th 2008 by Penguin Press HC, The (first published January 1st 2008)
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Manderson
This is a brave and uncompromising outline of where our political and economic development must go for our nation and globe to adapt to and mitigate environmental changes and population growth. I hope every public representative in the world reads this.

Jeffrey Sachs picks up from where his The End of Poverty left off, and extends his macroeconomic perspective to the challenges of climate change, population growth, and environmental devastation. He firmly lays waste to the ideological myths of...more
Mike
I had to read this book in stages. It includes a ton of great information, but it's frequently really heavy stuff. I saw Sachs at Politics & Prose in DC reading from the book and lecturing. He's such an amazing person. He meant for the book to be full of heavier and more technical material than his last book, "The End of Poverty". He said that although it might not always be fun to read, we need to know this stuff in order to solve the big problems we face in the future. And that's really wh...more
Gill
In 2003, I was working as an agroforestry extension agent in a remote village in Africa. I had been struggling to get people to plant nitrogen-fixing and fruit trees for a year, to improve agriculture through local inputs (not just fertilizer and expensive seeds) and teach methods of improving plant breeding. Sachs came on VOA and gave a big interview (parroting Pedro Sanchez) about how if we sent more money to Africa, we could plant more nitrogen-fixing trees, and then all the soils would be mu...more
Glenn Murphy
I wanted to like this book. I agree with Sachs on most of the issues he covers in this book. But...

I really hate it when people use weak arguments to support ideas I agree with. I think it does more harm than good. I really didn't like how Sachs presents as an established fact that the first human inhabitants of North America hunted large mammals to extinction. He presents this as a historical example of human activity changing the environment. But there is no consensus that this is in fact what...more
Anthony
A rather uninspiring rehash from Sachs covering the breadth of development and environmental issues. For those who are already familiar with either field (and their sustainable development intersection), you won't find much new material here aside from some innovative programs you may not have heard of (e.g., GrameenPhone and Village Phone in Bangladesh). People who have not read the development/environment literature will find Common Wealth to be an accessible introduction, though lacking in su...more
Chandra
Fantastic book by Sachs, really an encyclopedic reference for the biggest challenges facing humanity. In his typical pragmatic yet optimistic style, Sachs comprehensively describes the crises of global warming, an exploding population, environmental deterioration and poverty, and outlines steps we can take now to do something about them, from the individual to international level. While the truth can sometimes be horrifying (especially exposures of the Bush administration's hindrance on so many...more
Duncan
Quite the tour de force, Sachs ranges from describing humanity's core environmental challenges (climate change, water use, biodiversity) to explaining the demographic trends and projections for the world (total fertility rate, population momentum, etc.) and his old trope of the ladder of economic development (how countries become prosperous) without leaving out his usual analyses of diverse poverty traps and such. He even gives his perspective on CSR, the role of NGOs, and universities in develo...more
Nicole
First of all, I am NOT an economist...I am far from it. I have trouble balancing my own checkbook let alone deciding how billions of people interact in the world economy. Despite my lack of background knowledge, Common Wealth was a truely engaging, informative, and (dare I say) entertaining read!

I found particularly interesting the chapters on global solutions to climate change and the entire section (two chapters) on demographics and the numbers behind the population increase. In the population...more
Nate
My simplified review could be this: this book is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, with planet Earth as the tree, and humankind as the boy.
Emily George
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Vikki Marshall
They say that Jeffrey Sachs is an economist with a vision, but after reading this book his true gift is being one of our most influential humanitarians. Rarely has a modern economist’s focus been geared towards raising awareness about global efforts that can transform the world into a better, more prosperous and functioning place but here Sachs does just that. In absolutely relatable terms he defines answers for climate change, water access, biodiversity issues, population concerns, extreme pove...more
Dan
In 2008 Jeffrey Sachs warned us in this book that "the worlds current ecological, demographic and economic trajectory is unsustainable." The reason: (1) human pressures on the Earth's ecosystems and climate; (2) the world's population growth; (3) extreme poverty; and (4) our inability to do global problem solving due to cynicism, defeatism, and outdated institutions. But he offers hope when he tells us "global cooperation… [has] been enormously successful in the past.. [when people of the world]...more
Oliver
I think that Sachs approach is interesting and I will add my detailed notes at some point to this post.
Essentially, Sachs discusses the climate facing the modern world, what with climate change, population booms, lacking resources, politics and seeming impending disaster. Due to this, he offers his optimistic perspective on how the world, through an interactive, multilateral approach, can begin to resolve these problems. He also makes the case that international economic aid is an important par...more
Joey
I don’t think there’s serious doubt that sustainable development is an element of the remedy for the ills that Sachs outlines in Common Wealth: environmental degradation, climate change, extreme poverty, disease, exponential population growth. What is startling is the extent to which the practices of the developed world’s population and businesses, and the policies of its governments, tend to ignore these ills.

One effective point of Common Wealth is how Sachs drew strong linkages between the sec...more
Tim
I had been looking for a book that explained in detail all the issues of climate change, population growth, poverty and sustainability in the world. A friend recommended "Common Wealth" by the economist Jeffrey D. Sachs and it didn't disappoint.

Jeffrey Sachs has been an economic adviser all over the world to governments and organizations. His work advising the U.N. on the Millennium Development Goals will likely get him a Nobel Prize one day soon. His ability to break down complex issues into bi...more
Xing
The key ideas are those which many of us have arrived at naturally and collectively- such as the consequences of population growth, over-consumption of resources, income disparities, as well as the numerous efforts people are making to tackle these issues. Sachs provides a broad, global perspective, allowing the non-economist to place underlying concepts (economic trends, political decision-making, population control) within a wider context, and elegantly knits together a wealth of essential fac...more
Mark
Jeffrey Sachs is the literary answer to Al Gore's film 'The Inconvient Truth', but without the dry, witty humor (that Gore could have made great use of during is vying for the presidency). Nevertheless, Sachs' book is chock full of information, mostly about the consequences of disregarding global warming as not just a potential serious problem for some, but as a global problem for us all. It is dark and it is forboding, but I can't decide whether it is the subject-matter and my understanding of...more
Greg
Not a bad book, although my main complaints are that it highly repetitive (one could play a drinking game with Green Revolution references) and a bit too self-referential at times. I like the fact that he calls for an active role of government in addressing climate change, investment in research and development, etc., but in other ways Sachs' view is painfully orthodox from an economics perspective. For example, he clearly subscribes to the notion of long-run convergence and equilibrium of incom...more
Roger
Jeff Sachs writes inspirationally, but he is too idealistic. Implementing his policies requires many givens, appealing to the best in politicians. However, a plan built purely on hope is either trying to pull an anime, saving the world with hotblooded manliness, or is doomed to failure. Politicians have their reasons for acting, and unless those reasons are rendered counterproductive or fulfilled, they will continue striding.

I think he suffers from giving too many presentations via Powerpoint to...more
Keith
This is the book that Jeffrey Sachs was meant to write. His previous book, The End of Poverty, has a catchier title and perhaps a more broadly appealing subject, but this book is far and away a better and more important read.

Sachs outlines three major challenges facing our world in the coming decades - environmental change, population growth, and extreme poverty, and gives a sort of state of the world in each of these three categories. For each topic, he discusses where we are now, the consequen...more
Gabriel
Jeffrey Sachs, former Harvard economist and current Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, is the ideal person to author such a work — a comprehensive overview of, and action plan for the social and environmental crises facing our planet. Regrettably, this book is a missed opportunity except, perhaps, as a very basic (and somewhat uninspired) introduction to present day environmental science and development economics. Hints of what this book could have been are found in the sect...more
Erika RS
This book describes why general prosperity is a good thing, tells how the changing global environmental and demographic situations change the traditional story with respect to prosperity, and presents ideas for how general global prosperity might be achieved.

Sachs argues that the 20th and 21st centuries will see the end of American and European economic dominance. This is largely due to the fact that the population is increasing much more quickly in the rest of the world than in the U.S. and Eur...more
Tinea
Feb 01, 2010 Tinea rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: billionaires looking for places to throw moneys
Recommended to Tinea by: fidget's econ professor
This book presents a fairly complete overview of mainstream international economic development theory and goals, and would serve as a useful introduction to the topic. Jeffrey Sachs is the darling economic advisor of many of the United Nations' development schemes, and is the driving figurehead behind the Millenium Development Goals. He's a liberal free-market economist at heart (as Naomi Klein so delightfully rips him apart for in The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism) who had eno...more
Mason
He covers a lot of ground, emphasizing the need to tackle diverse problems--health, environment, inequality, and more--all at the same time.

However, there's nothing hugely original here, and it's been covered elsewhere in more compelling ways. Also, Sachs takes on a professorial tone far too much of the time, telling the readers how things are, without much indication of how he arrived at these conclusions.

Paul Collier's The Bottom Billion Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be D...more
Edwin B
For me this book is a primer on what's most important going on in the world today, a useful paradigm on sustainable development and the need for all nations and all peoples to take responsibility for the earth - because it's not yet too late and we can still reverse the tide of environmental collapse, if we act now. Global social justice is also very much in Sachs' picture here - taking developed nations to task for providing very reasonable aid to help peoples in impoverished areas of the world...more
MCOH
O.k, actually, I didn't finish this. I checked it out of the library (on interlibrary loan) a while ago, and it came due before I was done. I'm just marking it as read, because I'm getting annoyed looking at my long list of books that I'm "currently reading". I need a place to mark, "Started this book, may or may not ever finish. Now kindly move aside and stop taunting me for being such an irresponsible, flaky reader."

It was a pretty good book (the first half of it, anyway), with some really imp...more
Talmadge East
I didn't know anything about this book before I bought it (was on the Books-A-Million recent bestsellers discount rack), but I did know of prominent economist Jeffrey Sachs so I bought it. Needless to say, part of the reason I didn't really enjoy the book was because it was totally different than what I thought. Also, Sachs has a tendency to be repetitive. There were some interesting facts about global climate change, & what we need to to do survive post-fossil fuels in around 100 years, bur...more
Jonathan
A good overview of development and some strategies for moving things forward. This covers many sectors (global warming, health, etc), at a (sometimes very) high level. Directly talks about William Easterly book for a few pages and refers to him several times in the book. I'd like to see these two debate sometime.

The fundamental information wasn't particularly new, nor did it provide a lot of scientific references. However, the book seems to be targeted at people who have not read a lot of develo...more
Joe
I work as a reporter covering United Nations headquarters, where nations discuss the world's most catastrophic problems and bicker about how to fix them while playing geopolitics and point-scoring, and that's enough to make me lose my faith in the human race, let me tell you. For a quick, realistic argument for why I should get it back, I turned to Sachs, who provided the goods. Optimistic but not pie-in-the-sky, Sachs provides here a basic primer on the most serious problems facing the world, a...more
Hendrick J.
Feb 19, 2011 Hendrick J. rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mario Di Brino
Shelves: economy
Un libro completamente lleno de estadísticas y de un análisis profundo del estado de nuestro entorno actualmente y de como este estará en el futuro. Especialmente hace énfasis en lo que deberíamos hacer para evitar que el futuro del planeta sea el que hasta ahora esta previsto que sea.
Cabe acotar que me pareció increíble la forma en la que Sachs analiza todo nuestro entorno actual y a la vez propone un sin fin de medidas que no son tan futurista, ni que escapan de la realidad por mas que parez...more
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  • Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis
  • The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World
  • Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day
  • Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty
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Is an American economist and Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University. One of the youngest economics professors in the history of Harvard University, Sachs became known for his role as an adviser to Eastern European and developing country governments in the implementation of so-called economic shock therapy during the transition from communism to a market system or during periods of...more
More about Jeffrey D. Sachs...
The End of Poverty The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity To Move the World: JFK's Quest for Peace Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals Macroeconomics in the Global Economy

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“Si continuamos haciendo las cosas como de costumbre, acabaremos padeciendo una crisis social y ecológica de consecuencias catastróficas” 2 likes
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