Sunday, August 13, 2006

Current reading--climate and otherwise.

Just a quick update on my reading habits. I`m currently reading 5 books switching from one to another, i never could read a given book straight through--at least not very often.

I have done a lot of reading about climate change and related issues, from both books and reports but at the moment my interests are straying slightly.

I often get into arguments, or atleast get into strongly opinionated situations where i have the position that "what we really need to do is lobby govornment of practical measures, highlight key weakneses and just for a change work with big business as they are the ones runing the planet".

Basically what i ususaly get back is that big businesses are destroying the planet, that all they do is greenwash and the politicians are hopeless. Not without a completely different system of govornment, commerce and international trade will we make the progress we need. Basically i`m surrounded by radicals and i find myslef a reformist by default, i don't know enough about the way the world works to think in revoloutionary terms.

So I have just embarked on some political/philisophical reading, to find out how this will effect my views on climate change mitigation.

The curent political books i am reading are:

1. Growth Fetish by Clive Hamilton (Executive Director of the Australia Institute)
2. Green Alternatives to Globlisation--A Manifesto by Caroline Lucas and Michael Woodin (UK Green Party MEP's)

I have 3 books on order:

1. The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (Father of Capitalism).
2. Das Kapital by Karl Marx (Socialist Philospoher).
3. Globalisation and It's Discontents by Jospeh Stiglitz (Economist, Former World Bank Economicst, Nobel Laurette).

The other books i am currently reading are:

The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery
The Grapes of Wrath by John Stienbeck
How to Win Campaigns by Chris Rose

Climate Change Action

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At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Growth fetish – I found it to be way too short and covered the topics a bit slap dash, but maybe a good place to start to get a few references about ecological economics.

Green alts – some good points raised but I thought the alternatives were way too unrealistic in today’s public policy climate. It’s not my cup of tea to abandon capitalism.

Smith and Marx – glad people are still reading these. People who are critical of capitalism or even marxism have never read any of these so it is a good place to start. Marx can be quite heavy though, especially reading it for leisure! You might find that Smith’s book is much more interesting and has more novel ideas in it – pretty good for the 17th century.

Stiglitz – this book is good. Covers the relevant topics and he is critical when need be. If you want a bit of a critical reading of development economics, I would strongly recommend both:

Lal, D. (2001) The Poverty of Development Economics 2e (Cusa)

Easterly, W. (2006) White Man’s Burden

These cover globalisation in a less direct way but they are both superbly written.

At 10:21 PM, Blogger Simon Donner said...

For a history of climate change science, 'The Discovery of Global Warming' by Spencer Weart is quite good.

At 8:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Sachs is supposed to be the man heading the MDGs and the director of the infamous Earth Institute at Columbia. His ideas are large and heavily involves foreign aid – most proposals within ‘the end of poverty’ are quite grandiose and are reliant upon foreign assistance. However there is much debate within development economics as to how much good foreign aid can do in a country.

The proponents against foreign aid suggest that it only provides a short term increase in aggregate demand since the increase in aid will increase the real exchange rate and therefore increase the inflation rate up to very high levels. People such as Easterly suggest that this aid will not work due to this reason and he goes further to suggest that we should be concentrating more on small schemes within development and produce incentives so as to encourage institutional change.

See the following link at Lars Smith’s blog for a good comparison of Sachs and Easterly There are loads of links here so as to get your teeth into Sachs vs Easterly. Sometimes it can be hard to argue against Sachs’ ideas because people will tell you that you are arguing against poverty reduction. However, at the end of the day, how much poverty reduction can be accomplished by foreign aid? My guess is not so much and the MDGs will not be met as a result.


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