Sachs speaks

Celebrity Economist Jeffrey Sachs visited Trinity last week, making a call for young people to play a role in combating two major problems facing the world economy: Global Poverty and Climate Change. “Each generation faces its challenge, each generation faces its existential reality that poses fundamental puzzles” he told the assembled students in the Public Theatre, and called on them to be more proactive in combating these.
He said that the world has moved into a “new era” of interconnectedness. Citing the AIDS pandemic and the September 11 attacks as examples, he said that “for the first time, there is no part of the world that is cut off, no part that is not fundamentally interconnected – this is absolutely new”. He talked of major problems facing the world, such as extreme poverty and climate change, and said “we will absolutely wreck the planet in our lifetimes” should nothing be done.
“Money, markets and Science and Technology” can only do “so much” he said, telling the students present of the need for a “new ethics of global responsibility”.
On Poverty he said, “we can harness market forces to good ends” and talked about new technologies “that can save lives” if they “are harnessed for the greater good”. He said that “markets will turn their back on the poor” and that the world’s governments have a duty to intervene.  “We have the means to end existing poverty in our time”.
Climate Change was the second major theme of his speech, noting that the world had entered a “new era – a human driven era” where “human driven pressures on the environment dominate”.  He said, “when you add up the costs of [stopping] Climate Change, we’re talking about 2% of rich world GDP, but we say it’s too much”. He criticised how “we can’t seem to find our way to mobilise the resources” to combat Climate Change.
Sachs has been dubbed a “Celebrity Economist” by Time Magazine and “probably the most important economist in the world” by the New York Times. He is a prominent advocate of policies to reduce global poverty and combat climate change and wrote the 2005 bestseller “The End of Poverty”.
Sachs is known for advising developing countries, most notably some former Soviet bloc countries, to implement economic “shock therapy” with notable successes of this approach including Poland and New Zealand.
This involves the sudden introduction of pro-market reforms; such as the withdrawal of price controls and state subsidies, removal of barriers to free trade and large scale privatisation of public owned assets. More recently, he was director of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals project.
Other speakers at the event included Senator for Trinity College Shane Ross, Labour TD Joan Burton, and Government Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Patrick Cunningham. The occasion was the inaugural address of Historical Society Auditor and Economics student, Jamie Walsh. His speech, ‘Economics in the Global Sphere’, talked about global poverty.
He said that it “was time to reassess global government in a global context” to address what he called the “failure to eliminate global poverty”, and argued that libertarians don’t acknowledge that Capitalism perpetuates suffering.