Summary of The Plundered Planet

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Rating

7

Qualities

  • Innovative

Recommendation

In the never-ending war between “romantics” and “ostriches,” economist Paul Collier stands squarely in the middle. Deeply grounded in the economic and environmental issues of the world’s poorest nations, Collier’s book provides background and cogent strategy for rational, pragmatic environmental practices (thus pacifying the romantics) and for bringing economic growth to the developing world via the sane, honest exploitation of natural resources (thus pleasing the ostriches). Collier describes the history and economic theory of resource “plunder,” and discusses how to turn it into resource management. He’s willing to fly in the face of popular opinion, and his hard-earned knowledge makes his arguments difficult to resist. In a perfect world, Collier would write less like an economist. But his ideas are so necessary and his solutions so urgent that readers who put up with his less-than-perfect flow of prose will gain important new insights. getAbstract strongly recommends this groundbreaking work to environmentalists, economists, policy makers, governments of any nation grappling with extracting their natural resources and all those concerned with these issues. And that should be everybody.

About the Author

Paul Collier, author of The Bottom Billion, is Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University.

 

Summary

The Tightrope

Underdeveloped, poor nations – home to “the bottom billion” of Earth’s population – possess a resource with the potential to save them: their natural assets. Handled properly, those assets and their resulting income can raise a nation’s fortunes. But when these countries handle their natural assets poorly, “plunder” is the result. All states walk the tightrope between “prosperity and plunder.” On one end of that tightrope are the “romantics,” who want to save the world, and on the other end are the “ostriches,” who want to milk the Earth for all possible profit. Neither group has a workable solution. Only the most pragmatic approach can save humanity and the planet. A sound strategy must address the needs of the bottom billion and the demands of the bottom line.

The Bottom Billion

It’s too late for small-scale agriculture to feed Africa. Most of the continent’s poor nations already lag behind in food production, and global warming will mean less rain and diminishing arable land. Bottom-billion economies must depend on resource extraction, which provides a constant temptation for government corruption. In a corrupt state, the revenue from plundered...


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