"I have always been uneasy about the philosophical and scientific underpinnings of 'sustainable development.' With A Poverty of Reason
, we now have an excellent book which carefully examines these concerns and which can be used to seriously debate the concept."
--Donald H. Stedman
, Phillipson-Brainerd Professor of Chemistry, University of Denver
"Beckerman, an Oxford economist, takes on three phrases frequently invoked in debates over environmental policy: 'sustainable development, ' 'the precautionary principle, ' and 'intergenerational equity.' He demonstrates that each is highly problematic--and that some interpretations of them could have detrimental effects on the world's poor and on future generations. Beckerman finds clear thinking and clear expression deficient in most public debate (even among those who know better), and his discussion of climate change and biodiversity has resonance well beyond those two illustrations. . . . Serious debate about current actions (on inactions) with long-term effects must take into account Beckerman's cogent arguments."
"In A Poverty of Reason
, Wilfred Beckerman brings wisdom and wit to his examination of major themes found in today's environmental policy. With his economist's scalpel, he cuts to the core of high sounding words and phrases such as 'sustainable development' and finds hopeless contradiction. Not much for slogans, Beckerman goes far beyond the usual in developing recommendations for environmental policy. In his view, governments that seek to provide 'greener pastures' must emphasize economic growth and enhanced protection of human rights and liberty."
, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Economics, Clemson University
"Wilfred Beckerman, an Oxford University Emeritus Fellow in Economics, disputes global climate change concerns and the need for sustainable development. . . . The author poses the following questions: What exactly is 'sustainable development' and what does it require? The answer is by no means obvious. How does one select from among competing needs and trade-offs? . . . [I]n Beckerman's view, the application of the precautionary principle, 'one of the basic principles of sustainable development, ' is not economically justified."
--Natural Resources and & Environment
"Sustainable development has become a shield for numerous special-interest arguments in the policy arena. In A Poverty of Reason
, Beckerman has provides an important, well-reasoned, and careful critique, pointing out both the crucial ethical and economic shortcomings of the arguments."
, George F. Bennett Chair of Economics, Wheaton College
"Beckerman's book, A Poverty of Reason
, sparkles with provocative claims and vigorous insights. Advocates of 'sustainable development' are unlikely to be convinced by all of Beckerman's claims; but they will learn a great deal from him, and refine their own views in the process. Beckerman is obviously concerned with the prospects of the poorest people in the poorest nations--and in that light, his doubts about some popular environmental proposals have special credibility. Highly recommended."
--Cass R. Sunstein
, Karl N. Llewellyn Distinguished Service Professor, Law School and Department of Political Science, University of Chicago
"There is no gainsaying the fact that in contemporary times, 'sustainable development' has become one of the most bandied about and at the same time one of the least clearly understood concepts. Given this state of affairs, it makes perfect sense to ask what the notion of sustainable development actually means. This is, in fact, the central question that A Poverty of Reason
book asks. . . . very good . . . the author does a good job of analyzing the issues and, in the process, he debunks some of the more extreme contentions of environ- mentalists. . . . I would recommend this book to readers who wish to learn more about whether it is right to ask (some very poor) members of the present generation to make sacrifices for future generations who obviously do not exist at the present and who, according to the author, have no rights."
--Journal of Range Management
"Wilfred Beckerman shows brilliantly in A Poverty of Reason
that 'sustainable development' is a confused jumble of ideas that is capable nevertheless of doing much policy harm in the real world. Anyone who believes that 'sustainable development' is a meaningful intellectual construct needs to read this clear and concise book."
, Professor of Public Affairs, University of Maryland
Wilfred Beckerman, an economist and emeritus fellow at Balliol College, Oxford University, has served on Britain's Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and chaired the Academic Panel of Economists for the Department of the Environment from 1991 to 1996. He is the author of In Defence of Economic Growth, Small Is Stupid: Blowing the Whistle on the Green, Through Green-Colored Glasses: Environmentalism Reconsidered, and Justice, Posterity, and the Environment.