Friday, June 03, 2005

A review of Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive by Jared Diamond :: Partha Dasgupta

There is no evidence that he even realises he doesn’t have the equipment to hand with which to study our interactions with nature. Nor, as far as I can judge, has he tried to engage with his economist colleagues to learn whether ecological economists have anything to say on the matter. The many people who will be reading Diamond’s book will be fascinated by the historical case studies, but they will also be left with the impression that there is still no intellectual toolkit with which to deliberate over the most significant issue facing humanity today. Worse, they may not even notice they haven’t got the tools. So readers will continue as either environmentalists or environmental sceptics, each locked into their own perspective. It is a great pity.

Partha Dasgupta’s most recent book was Human Well-Being and the Natural Environment. He is the Frank Ramsey Professor of Economics at Cambridge and a fellow of St John’s College.
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