Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 322: Plundered Planet and Collier

One of us takes a long walk with the dogs everyday. Today I took the dogs out for their morning romp. They get a leash free time to go off and run, play and stick their noses in other critter's pooh. The dogs love it. We love it. A cross-species time of enjoyment for all.

Last night I started reading Paul Collier's The Plundered Planet. The book has a particularly awful sub-title (and why do all these books always have sub-titles?): Why We Must--and How We Can---Manage Nature for Global Prosperity. Why is the sub-title awful? Who manages Nature? It gives the impression that humans are superior to Nature and that Nature can even be managed. Seems to be Nature can be destroyed, enjoyed, worked with, obliterated and conserved: but Nature cannot be managed. It is arrogant to think otherwise. Nature isn't a business. Nature is our world.

But Paul Collier is a Oxford scholar connected to The Economist. An economics professor. As such he should be immediately suspect. But hey, at least the guy writes about climate change and shows concern for the Bottom Billion of humans who live in abject poverty.

I almost stopped reading after the first couple of pages. When it comes to environmentalism, Collier sets up a dichotomy regarding planet plunder of "the romantics" and "the ostriches". Of course, Collier would see me as a "romantic".

He writes:

"Both the romantics and the ostriches will take us to oblivion, albeit by different routes. Run by the romantics, the world would starve; run by the ostriches, it would burn."

From these two perspectives, Collier goes on to find a middle way. A capitalist liberal vision. He continues:

"In short, The Plundered Planet is written for people who are neither filled with a saintly self loathing of modernity nor are ethically blocks of stone: people who have, perhaps, grown a little impatient with the profusion of homilies about our duty to sustain the natural world in the condition to which it has become accustomed, but who nonetheless recognize that a cheery disregard for nature would be whistling in the dark."

He wants his cake and he wants to eat it too. Should be interesting.

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