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The Plundered Planet: Why We Must--And How We Can--Manage Nature for Global Prosperity (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 11. Mai 2010

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"Paul Collier is a brilliant mind with a keen understanding of the modern world's obstacles to progress. In The Plundered Planet, Collier tackles some of the most difficult questions of our time, and offers an insightful framework for effectively managing our world's natural resources. Collier's book is an important meditation on how we can build a world that is more equal, more sustainable, and more prosperous for all humankind." --President Clinton

"Paul Collier has written with great insight about the prospects of the bottom billion. In The Plundered Planet, he addresses himself to the complex opportunities, challenges and risks in managing the planet's natural resources. The bottom billion have a huge stake and an important role in the outcomes. Collier helps us see these issues through their eyes." --Michael Spence, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics

"In this path-breaking book, Paul Collier develops one of the most fascinating subjects he touched on in The Bottom Billion -- the resource curse. It will be of great interest to all those who are concerned about the future of our civilization." --George Soros

"Paul Collier's 'The Plundered Planet' should not only be read by every one of us but also force-fed to every politician." -- Buffalo News

"Read this book."--Sir Nicholas Stern, author of The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change

"Collier has made an important contribution in bringing together usually separate fields. His efforts may spark scholars in disparate disciplines to cooperate on these important problems--especially scholars who work at different scales." -Science

"A practical handbook for ending world poverty - a must read." -- The Sunday Times

"The Plundered Planet is right to highlight the importance of government accountability in addressing poverty and climate change. But it will be the dispersion of power, fuelled by entrepreneurship and innovation, that will ultimately empower individuals to create accountability and solve global problems."--Nature

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Paul Collier is Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University and a former director of Development Research at the World Bank. In addition to the award-winning The Bottom Billion, he is the author of Wars, Guns, and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places.

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18 von 18 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Prosperity or plunder - Treating natural assets: a thought provoking discussion 22. April 2010
Von Jijnasu Forever - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
Collier provides a engaging debate on "tension between prosperity and plunder". In a sense, he picks up where he left off in The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It. Here, the focus is on how Nature can be "harnessed to transform" poor societies without overly burdening others. Whether this comes across as an excellent philosophical framing or an over-constrained optimization problem (sorry, geek speak) will determine how well you like this book.

In Part I, Collier uses cutesy but effective algebra employing nature, technology and regulation to show how unique combinations of these results in hunger, plunder or prosperity. The ensuing discussion on ownership v/s custody of natural assets and utilitarianism/propinquity provides a novel way to frame one's ethical and economic responsibilities in the context of environmentalism. In Part II, Collier expands on some of his assertions from Bottom Billion and explains the "resource curse" notion focusing on issues around treating Nature as an asset. Part III discusses his views on what he terms as "plunder" of natural assets. Overall, these two parts form an interesting debate grounded in economic theories (without being overly dry) and serves as an assessment of the different stakeholders in "natural asset extraction". Part IV is more of a cautionary advice to the general population. Collier admits that his thesis that Nature can be entrusted to "values of ordinary citizens" is conditional on their ability not to be misled into beliefs that may be 'comforting, but ultimately destructive'. He then lists three "giants of romanticism" that need to be addressed (fascination with peasant agriculture, ban on genetically modified food, and food-for-fuel). Needless to say, Part IV is likely to face the brunt of criticisms (theoretical or rhetorical), given the amount of popular books on sustainable farming, and clean energy enthusiasts for ethanol, etc. When he discusses political viewpoints (mostly US-centric), a reader cannot deny the balanced approach.

It is challenging to pick a few chapters that are standouts - each one is very successful in articulating a well-focussed message. Be it the discussions around aid policies to mitigate 'commodity shocks', incentivizing investments in Africa, or conflicting constraints on asset exploration, Collier explains economic theories and observations in an accessible manner.

Students of the discipline may find plenty to debate, but that's a good thing. Assumptions regarding taxation, inflation, etc pretty much never appears to have been factored in, for example. Whether or not one agrees with Collier's assertions and hypotheses, one cannot disagree that Collier manages to provoke serious reflection and is more often than not successful in reframing the discussion. This book will provide a reader a logical/rational approach towards environmentalism - stripped from the extreme romanticism or reliance on moralism. I rate the book 5* mostly for this: framing the discussion in a thoughtful way (despite the reluctance in supporting his 'solutions' wholeheartedly).

It is disappointing to see that one of the leading voices in Economics writes a thought provoking book without any citations or very few additional resources for the more curious reader. Nevertheless, this is an engaging and informative read ( much so that I took a day off to read the book the day I received it) that will cement Collier's position as a thought leader. A must read.
16 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A couple of major flaws here 4. September 2010
Von E. N. Anderson - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
On the whole, this is a good book. It reads well, does not try to cover too much, and uses common sense instead of economic doublespeak or theories pushed beyond their limit. Collier has a valuable mix of ethics and economics: he sees the need to help people, first of all, and, second, to be fair about it; and that means that we see ourselves as custodians of resources for the future.
He is especially good on macroeconomics and national policy, and on the problems of corruption--the "plunder" side of the equation. The middle part of the book, where he dissects this in detail, is by far the best.
He has many good things to say about one of my research areas, fisheries, where we are depleting a resource that should be sustainable, and therefore depriving future generations through sheer irresponsibility. Unfortunately, his cure is to leave fishery regulation to the United Nations and the individual nations that hold territorial waters. The United Nations does not even stop genocide; they saw fit to elect China and Sudan to the Human Rights Commission and then re-elect them. The chances that fish will get better care are somewhat remote.
Collier defends GM crops, nuclear energy generation, and some other things that will raise hackles; I agree with him and the facts are pretty much there, but one must worry about the future with the GM crops, since they are poorly regulated so far.
Collier leaves out two key points that he absolutely needs, to make his case. One is population growth. The delusion that population will naturally stop growing around 2050--a false claim--may have deluded him. In fact, world population is growing far too fast. This could be stopped without any draconian measures, simply by giving girls some education--every year in primary school reduces ultimate birth numbers--and by providing comprehensive health care including family planning options. That done, people are sensible enough to make the right decisions.
Next comes the worldwide decline in good farmland. Urbanization, including building of roads and airports, is a lot of the problem. Erosion and desertification is the rest of it. At current rates of urbanization, my home state of California will lose its last farm around 2050, and China will lose its last one within a century or so. China is moving its agriculture to Brazil, Sudan, and so on--what will the Brazilians and Sudanese eat in the end?
In one place, Collier is wrong, and is so wrong that I find it mystifying: he argues for large-scale agribusiness as opposed to small farms. He holds up the model of the impoverished, capital-less African smallholding or the "romantic" organic hobby farm as the only alternatives! What happened to normal small-to-medium-sized commercial agriculture? There are thousands of studies, over 300 years, using literally tens of millions of data points, that show these are better than large-scale absentee-landlord agribusiness of the Brazil/California style. One can go all the way back to Arthur Young in the 1770s, already proving it. Collier even talked to Hans Binswanger, whom he admits is "the leading international expert on African agriculture" (and, one may add, on some other ag issues), and Binswanger tried to set him straight; but Collier disagrees. One need only read Binswanger's work--or Robert Netting's, or any of a thousand other authors--to see that reasonably-capitalized, intensive, family farming or comparable middle-scale intensive farming is what works. Agribusiness ruins the land and has appalling social consequences; we see a lot of this in California, where, most recently, agribusiness ruined the vast and fertile Tulare Basin by allowing salinization, and now a family farmer is reclaiming a chunk of it through sheer hard work.
Or take my own Mexican research: Maya Indian farmers on tiny plots succeed where every agribusiness effort has failed, in the harsh habitat of the Yucatan peninsula. Hard work and skill will generally beat absentee landlordship and careless use of heavy-duty capital, especially in an environment really needed that skill.
17 von 20 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Good, but could use a different title and a professional writer 25. Juni 2010
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf
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This is an interesting book about the economics of resource development and who is most likely to benefit from it. It also has an informative discussion, at least from the viewpoint of an economist, on how best to manage natural resources. I had a few problems with the book though:

- The title is misleading. It should really be "How to Plunder the Planet while Paying Attention to the Fact that we Should Consider our Children's Needs to Plunder the Planet" or something like that.

- The book is written from the viewpoint of an economist that believes that all of Nature is there for humans to use as they see fit. While I don't entirely disagree with this concept, I think this author is disdainful of the importance of Nature as something we rely on for our psychological health, not just our monetary health.

- While the author does refer to a web page for his research sources, the only references he sites are his own writings and the writings of a few close colleagues from what I can tell. As a layperson trying to gather more information on this topic, I think he could have done better in the book itself.

- The author is a good writer but his writing is that of a researcher. While his text is readable, he repeats himself, writes confusing sentences, and generally could use the help of a professional writer to improve his effectiveness in communicating with people like me.

If you are interested in having a better understanding of the economic policies that drive resource development and how to improve things for the benefit of poor populations, this is a good book. If you are looking for information on how to create sustainable resource development, this author has some ideas, but there may be better sources of information for that topic.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Cure for the Resource Curse 19. Juli 2010
Von Adam Rust - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
The Bottom Billion was explicitly about explaining the problems of Africa. It was Collier's description of the problem. In that analysis, many of the challenges were constants. A country without a port is forever consigned to some economic vulnerability. Bad neighbors are also a problem. Others are transitory. A corrupt government enables poverty. Abundant non-renewable natural resources (the "resource curse") is another problem. The last issue is at the heart of most of this book. In the global economy, natural resources (oil, coltan, copper, diamonds, et al) are sought after by China and the West. That is where the Bottom Billion finished.

This is his prescription for the problem. Collier is much more pragmatic. He's asking, 'if Africa is poor but it does have natural resources, then how should the extraction of those resources be engineered to actually help people out of poverty?" Plunder is when bad leaders put their own greed in front of the needs of their nations, often with the facilitation of a world power or a global corporation. Too frequently, abundant resources mix with a lack of transparency in institutions, no rule of law, a poor and poorly educated population. It might be coincidental, or it might be that one breeds the other. No difference. It is the problem that Africa faces today.

Here is how it goes: a relatively undeveloped but somewhat orderly third world country wakes up to the news that (diamonds, oil, copper, uranium...) a vast mine of resources is located inside it borders. Global corporations move into town. They would like to explore, perhaps to find more reserves. Those corporations are not alone - they are soon side by side with the ministries of several nations. They want the goods, and they are willing to pay. The country has a government, albeit it unacquainted with geology or with international law. A deal is struck. The money goes into an account. No one sees the dollars in the country, though. It is siphoned off through "facilitation payments" or by ouright theft. The people are worse off than before, because demand for currency drives up the export price of the other economic products of the country. This is Dutch Disease.

There are better ways for a resource-blessed country to proceed. The model is Norway, where oil wealth was invested into safe US Treasuries. The gradual enrichment of the country took time, but now Norway has excellent roads, clean water, and good schools. That investment has in turn fostered an educated labor force that creates its own value. The dark path is that of Zaire or Equitorial Guinea - where resources have wrecked civil society. Collier thinks there ought to be a balance. Norway's path is generally preferable, although Collier takes exception to the idea of putting off spending. He feels like you cannot give everything to future generations at the expense of today.

The first interesting thing that Collier has to say is that Africa is not actually as well endowed with resources as if often though. With a few of his graduate students, he attempted to monetize known resource assets. The answer was intriguing: across 3/4s of the world, there were about 192,000 pounds per acre in resources. In Africa, there was just 23,000. He doubts that the land is so barren, but only that the continent' lack of development has meant that it is still largely unexplored. Nonetheless, most of those countries are dependent upon commodity exports. They have fewer resources on a relative level, but they have even fewer non-resource assets.

The second interesting thing: he's not so black-and-white about Chinese expansion into the resource game. He likes two things. For one, the Chinese will provide the funds for a country to get its own survey of its geology. That means that these countries are negotiating with more certainty. Second, the Chinese pay in a way that prevents plunder. Whereas the West likes to offer dollars through transparent agreements, the Chinese prefer to build infrastructure but not to provide any details about their deals. There is value to that approach. It guarantees that those oil or copper dollars won't go into the Swiss accounts of the Prime Minister.

A third interesting thing: Collier believes that "pastoralism," his term for the rose-colored view of village life and local agriculture, is a short-sighted and potentially harmful concept. Prince Charles has apparently developed a working village community in England, with artisan trade workers and small farming. Development organizations have lately taken to supporting micro-finance projects and small scale farming. The problem with that, he says, is that we already have about one billion people that cannot eat. Population is only going to expand. Moreover, with climate change it is likely that there will be fewer places that are suitable for farming. The world is going to have more starving people, unless we accept large scale agronomy and the opportunities afforded by fertilizers and GMO crops. I think he understands why people love going to their farmer's market: the food just tastes better. And it does, but there is a cost. While all of those farmer's markets probably don't take many acres away from Cargill or ADM, the idea is the problem. If the World Food Programme decides that it is going to fund projects that support small peasant plots, then Africa will never be able to feed its mega-cities.

I imagined that this would be a book about the destruction of our natural environment. It was the title, "Plundered Planet," as well as its subhead about nature and prosperity, that made me think Collier would be skip to a discussion about stewardship of nature. Ah, but that is what this book is not about. Collier even singles out the idea of "stewardship" as misguided. How can we put the interest of nature first if it means consigning more nations to poverty, and more people to lives without sanitation, education, and adequate food? The problem is that many environmental aims are met by holding development in place. He wants clean forests, stocks of fish, and fresh air. He also wants economic growth. This book is about satisfying both of those aims. The success or failure will be witnessed in Africa, where people are already poor but will also be among the most vulnerable to climate change.

I enjoyed this book because it is so thorough, and also because I feel like I have been listening to someone who is not afraid to contradict a popular opinion. These are the thoughts of someone that has spent his life thinking about how we can actually make a difference for the Wretched of the Earth. Although it is written by a world-class academic, it is still written in a way that it can be understood by the average reader.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Good discussion of the resources 27. März 2012
Von Jason Stokes - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
I see this book as a natural extension of Jared Diamond's Collapse - in which natural resources were not managed, and localized tragedy occurred. Collier writes in an engaging style - not too far falling into econospeak, but with greater depth of knowledge and education than a Thomas Friedman or other pop journalist writers on these topics. Overall, he presents a good picture of how resources can be corrupting, but how we need to ensure we manage our resources so our children, and their children, and so on, have access to them as well. Extraction doesn't create lasting wealth - it simply transfers some of the future wealth to us today.
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