Treasures of the Earth : Need, Greed, and a Sustainable Future

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  • Format: Trade Book
  • Copyright: 2009-10-27
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
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Would the world be a better place if human societies were somehow able to curb their desires for material goods? Saleem Ali's pioneering book links human wants and needs by providing a natural history of consumption and materialism with scientific detail and humanistic nuance. It argues that simply disavowing consumption of materials is not likely to help in planning for a resource-scarce future, given global inequality, development imperatives, and our goals for a democratic global society. Rather than suppress the creativity and desire to discover that is often embedded in the exploration and production of material goodswhich he calls "the treasure impulse"Ali proposes a new environmental paradigm, one that accepts our need to consume "treasure" for cultural and developmental reasons, but warns of our concomitant need to conserve. In evaluating the impact of treasure consumption on resource-rich countries, he argues that there is a way to consume responsibly and alleviate global poverty.

Author Biography

Saleem H. Ali is associate professor of environmental studies at the University of Vermont and serves on the adjunct faculty of the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Introduction: Alchemy of a Material Worldp. 1
The Pleasure Of Treasure
What Lies Beneath: The Material and Mystical Origins of Mineral Wealthp. 17
Creating Value: The Endurance of Precious Jewelsp. 39
The Rush Factor: Tracing the Mineral Roots of Global Power Through Gold, Coal, and Oilp. 62
Toil and Treasure
The Darker Side of Fortune: The Psychology of Treasure Dependencep. 89
Curing the Resource Curse: Minerals and Global Developmentp. 110
The Spoils of the Earth: The Ecological Toll of Extractive Excitementp. 132
Measure for Measure
Destination Cradle: The Quest for Material Cyclingp. 161
The Restoration Ethic: Hurting and Healing Ecosystemsp. 185
Embracing the Treasure Impulse: Toward Cautionary Creativityp. 207
Epilogue: Embracing Uncertaintyp. 235
Appendix: Notable Minerals and Their Human Usesp. 239
Notesp. 245
Indexp. 278
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