Views & Reviews Review of the Week

It’s the fossil fuels, stupid

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 01 April 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1342
  1. Ian Roberts, professor of epidemiology and public health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  1. Ian.Roberts{at}

    If we leave tackling climate change to economists such as Jeffrey Sachs, we will end up facing a demise as bleak as that depicted in the film The Age of Stupid, writes Ian Roberts

    That the priests of our state religion of economics are so deeply distressed by climate change must mean that humanity is in grave danger. Nicholas Stern was the first to frighten the political congregation with his 700 page Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, a scholarly but turgid tome that concluded that saving the Earth, and the ecosystems on which all life depends, probably represented good value for money ( And now in his new book we have the US economist and special adviser Jeffrey Sachs sounding the environmental clarion. The sermon that Sachs delivers is neither scholarly not turgid; rather, it describes the flight of fancy of an economic bumblebee as he flits between biodiversity loss, climate change, population, poverty, and US foreign policy.

    Sachs delivers his conclusions with the moral authority and optimism that only the deeply religious can muster: we must build more roads; we must trap carbon dioxide and stick it …

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