Saturday, April 14, 2007

Jeffrey Sachs: Choices for a more Harmonious World

Jeffrey Sachs gives the Reith Lectures this year all of which can be listened to and downloaded as a podcast starting with the first one, "Bursting at the Seams" here. We are promised in the series strategies to implement, amongst other things, the MDG's. It is essential listening.

In the Q&A there was this exchange (Sue Lawley is the moderator):-

JENNY RUSSELL: The core problem that you're discussing Jeffery is really one of over-consumption, and I do believe that you're an optimist when you say that you feel that actually most of these problems can be solved without much sacrifice on people's part, because I simply don't see how that can be so. So what you're really saying is that people have to stop wanting to consume so much. Now I see absolutely no evidence whatsoever that anybody is willing to do that. You talk about governments being short-term, which they are, but we as individuals are all extremely short-term, we've got extremely poor people in this country…

SUE LAWLEY: I'm hoping for a question mark.

JENNY RUSSELL: …and no-one's willing to do anything about that. When you, when you talk about this, what is it that you're actually proposing will change, because all I can see is that everyone in the globe is going to go on wanting to consume as much as possible until it's impossible.

JEFFREY SACHS: I am not arguing the over-consumption argument - that is actually not my point. I do not believe that the solution to this problem is a massive cutback of our consumption levels or our living standards. I think it is living smarter. I do believe that technology is absolutely critical, and I do not believe on the evidence that I'm going to be discussing in these lectures that the essence of the problem is that we face a zero sum that must be re-distributed. I'm going to argue that there's a way for us to use the knowledge that we have, the technology that we have, to make broad progress in material conditions, to not require or ask the rich to take sharp cuts of living standards, but rather to live with smarter technologies that are sustainable, and thereby to find a way for the rest of the world, which yearns for it, and deserves it as far as I'm concerned, to raise their own material conditions as well. The costs are much less than people think. You are making the argument that this is so costly we don't dare do it.

1 comment:

tony sheng said...

you are right - essential listening. i've enjoyed #1 the most so far.