The global economic system now faces a sustainability crisis, Jeffrey Sachs argues, that will overturn many of our basic assumptions about economic life. The changes will be deeper than a rebalancing of economics and politics among different parts of the world; the very idea of competing nation-states scrambling for power, resources, and markets will, in some crucial respects, become passŽ. The only question is how bad it will have to get before we face the unavoidable. We will have to learn on a global scale some of the hard lessons that successful societies have gradually and grudgingly learned within national borders: that there must be common ground between rich and poor, among competing ethnic groups, and between society and nature.
The central theme of Jeffrey Sachs's new book is that we need a new economic paradigm-global, inclusive, cooperative, environmentally aware, science based- because we are running up against the realities of a crowded planet. The alternative is a worldwide economic collapse of unprecedented severity. Prosperity will have to be sustained through more cooperative processes, relying as much on public policy as on market forces to spread technology, address the needs of the poor, and to husband threatened resources of water, air, energy, land, and biodiversity. The "soft issues" of the environment, public health, and population will become the hard issues of geopolitics. New forms of global politics will in important ways replace capital-city-dominated national diplomacy and intrigue. National governments, even the United States, will become much weaker actors as scientific networks and socially responsible investors and foundations become the more powerful actors.
If we do the right things, there is room for all on the planet. We can achieve the four key goals of a global society: prosperity for all, the end of extreme poverty, stabilization of the global population, and environmental sustainability. These are not utopian goals or pipe dreams, yet they are far from automatic. Indeed, we are not on a successful trajectory now to achieve these goals. Common Wealth points the way to the course correction we must embrace for the sake of our common future. (Penguin Press)