ALTERNATIVE WORLDS AND ECONOMIES
Dexign for new economies and new types of work.
Sabin, P. (2013). The bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and our gamble over Earth’s future.
The Bet uses a legendary wager between the Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich and the conservative University of Illinois economist Julian Simon to examine the roots of modern environmentalism and its relationship to broader political conflicts in the nation. Ehrlich, author of the landmark 1968 book The Population Bomb, believed that rising populations would cause overconsumption, scarcity, and disastrous famines. Simon countered that flexible markets, technological change, and human ingenuity would allow societies to adapt to changing circumstances and continue to improve human welfare. In 1980, they made a much-ballyhooed bet about the future prices of five metals that served as a proxy for their arguments about the future. The Bet weaves intellectual biographies of Ehrlich and Simon into the history of late twentieth-century environmental politics and other struggles of the era between liberals and conservatives. Humanity’s larger gamble on the future still remains unresolved. By wrestling with the different sides of these arguments, The Bet encourages a more nuanced approach to environmental problems, one that acknowledges the limitations of both ecology and economics in guiding policy, and that instead emphasizes the conflicting values that underlie political choices. The Bet is structured around three bets: first, the $1000 bet that Ehrlich (and two colleagues) made with Simon over the prices of chromium, copper, nickel, tin, and tungsten; second, the bet that the United States faced in the 1980 presidential election in choosing between Carter and Reagan; and third, the larger gamble that we as a society continue to make as we make choices.
Paul Sabin: “The Bet: Our Gamble for Earth’s Future” | Talks at Google (54 minutes)
Diamond, J. M. (2005). Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed. New York: Viking.
In his Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond examined how and why Western civilizations developed the technologies and immunities that allowed them to dominate much of the world. Now, Diamond probes the other side of the equation: What caused some of the great civilizations of the past to collapse into ruin, and what can we learn from their fates?
Reese, B. (2013). Infinite progress: How the Internet and technology will end ignorance, disease, poverty, hunger, and war. Austin, Tex: Greenleaf Book Group.
Illustrates how the internet, human ingenuity, and technological innovation will help us overcome what he identifies as the five plagues of our existence: ignorance, disease, poverty, hunger, and war.
Six degrees could change the world