The End of Poverty?

I've been reading Jeffrey Sachs's "The End of Poverty", which is really a pretty hopeful book suggesting that we really could make things better in the world if we'd get off of our self-serving defeatest butts. It's kind of a boring read for me, because it's all economics, but he's a real pragmatist with enough experience helping the developing world overcome the worst poverty that you tend to believe what he says. Whether it will happen or not is a big question, and the major weakness of the book is that there isn't enough discussion of how environmental issues might play in to undermine the situation further.

That said, I'm feeling pretty hopeful lately about the possible collapse of society in the wake of peak oil, global warming, nuclear war, and neo-conservatism. After watching the way Cuba reacted to their peak oil crisis, my guess is that, over the next several hundred years, rich societies will gradually decline (with some war) back into basic agrarian states, and that poor societies will gradually ascend towards sustainability. In many ways, it's globalization and colonization that have created the worst aspects of the world's poverty, as well as the best aspects of the world's wealth, and once we don't have the fuel to sustain those trends societies will shrink back towards the center. I'm just hoping nobody presses the big red button before then, because nuclear fallout would make farming, hunting and gathering much harder.

Do what the celebrities tell you.

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