This week, if you buy my new book on innovating to save the planet, I’ll donate the proceeds to the Environmental Defense Fund.
Five years ago I decided that I needed to understand the state of the environment and my responsibilities as a human being. I’d heard stories from all sides, but didn’t know the facts for myself. So I dug into the primary research on climate change, fossil fuels, fresh water, forests, oceans, and more. Along the way I found that most popular books on the topic gravitate towards extremes: either they claim that there is no problem at all, or they claim that the problem is so severe as to be insurmountable, or insurmountable without a profound reduction in human wealth.
The truth is more complicated. The science is clear: we’re facing tremendous threats to the planet’s climate, environment, and the natural resources that we depend on. Yet history is also full of examples of humanity overcoming natural resource shortages and reversing environmental damage. We can do that, if we innovate fast enough. Neither success nor failure is assured. It’s up to us, in the science we fund, the laws we pass, and the decisions we make.
The end point of five years of research is a new book, The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet. It is, to the best of my abilities, a balanced book – one that looks at the huge threats, the tremendous resources we can marshal against those threats, and the decisions we need to make. The title reflects that our planet truly is finite, but that innovations can grow the total pie of resources, and even shrink our environmental footprint at the same time.
Steven Pinker has said that the book should be “required reading for all global thinkers and leaders.” Readers have told me that they’ve found the book inspiring and eye opening and that it’s changed their minds on critical topics.
My primary goal is to reach people with it. And so, if you buy the book through the link in this email, all proceeds from it will go to the Environmental Defense Fund. I’ve chosen the EDF because they invest in and base their policies on sound science, and because they’ve been innovators in devising market-based solutions to environmental problems. It was the EDF who proposed the solution that’s ended acid rain in North America – a ‘cap and trade’ system for the pollution that was causing acid rain. That’s one of many stories in the book of innovations in our economic systems, which are just as important as innovations in technology.
Below you’ll find more about the book. I hope you’ll take a look and, if you enjoy it, pass it on to friends, colleagues, and family.
Advance Praise for The Infinite Resource:
“This book contains a plan – probably the only plan – to save the world. Ramez Naam is unwilling to minimize the challenges that face us, but equally unwilling to sermonize or catastrophize. The Infinite Resource is an intelligent and responsible analysis, presented in lively prose; it should be required reading for all global thinkers and leaders. “
– Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and the author of The Better Angels of Our Nature.
“Most books about the future are written by blinkered Pollyannas or hand-wringing Cassandras. Ramez Naam–Egypt-born, Illinois-raised, a major contributor to the computer revolution–is neither. Having thought about science, technology and the environment for decades, he has become that rarest of creatures: a clear-eyed optimist. Concise, informed and passionately argued, The Infinite Resource both acknowledges the very real dangers that lie ahead for the human enterprise and the equally real possibility that we might not only survive but thrive.”
– Charles Mann, NYT best selling author of 1491 and 1493
“Brilliant. Ramez Naam shows that innovation is the only force equal to the global challenges that face us, and that we can prosper if we harness it.”
– Ray Kurzweil, bestselling author of The Singularity is Near
“An amazing book. Throughout history, the most important source of new wealth has been new ideas. Naam shows how we can tap into and steer that force to overcome our current problems and help create a world of Abundance.”
– Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman of the X PRIZE and Singularity University, Author of the NYT Best Seller Abundance – The Future is Better Than You Think
“A refreshingly thorough roadmap of solutions to our energy and climate crisis.”
– UTNE Reader
“By providing a detailed, statistically rich historical background on many of the detrimental practices and attitudes that have brought humanity to the nail-biting precipice that may await a century from now, Naam strengthens his soberly confident, if not cautiously optimistic, predictions for how humans can walk it back from the edge of disaster.”
Climate Change. Finite Fossil Fuels. Fresh Water Depletion. Ocean Acidification. Overpopulation. Deforestation. Feeding the World’s Billions. Rising Commodity Prices.
We’re beset by an array of natural resource and environmental challenges. They pose a tremendous risk to human prosperity, to world peace, and to the planet itself.
Yet, if we act, these problems are addressable. For the most valuable resource on earth is not oil, gold, water or land. Instead, our capacity for expanding human knowledge is our greatest resource, and the key to overcoming the very real resource scarcity and enormous environmental challenges we face.
Throughout human history we have learned to overcome scarcity and adversity through the application of innovation — the only resource that is expanded, not depleted, the more we use it.
The century ahead is a race between our damaging overconsumption and our growing understanding of ways to capture and utilize abundant natural resources with less impact on the planet. The Infinite Resource is a clear-eyed, visionary, and hopeful argument for progress.